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Utah universities utilizing solar power

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Aug. 27, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.


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OGDEN -- Solar panels are about more than saving cash on the power bill.

There are 84 on the Weber State University's Davis Campus and all are part of a greater goal to foster a culture of energy conservation.

"It helps us communicate with students, and faculty and staff about what we're trying to do on campus," Jacob Cain, sustainability manager at Weber State University said. "And it also encourages behaviors on their side, with turning off lights and shutting down computers."

For Jacob Cain, it's a full-time job helping all of WSU become carbon neutral by the year 2050.

"This is about 20 kilowatts that these will produce. Which, I mean the university uses significantly more than that, but this is a first step of many," he said.

They have nearly fifty more panels on top of the gymnasium on the main campus helping to keep the swimming pool warm. About another hundred-fifty are set to go in above the Student Union Building.

Weber State isn't the only Utah campus trying to become more green. It's happening at schools all over the country as part of an effort to make them more sustainable in the long-run.


"It helps us communicate with students, and faculty and staff about what we're trying to do on campus. And it also encourages behaviors on their side, with turning off lights and shutting down computers."

The University of Utah has large-scale plans for solar power, including something unique, they call solar ivy.

"It would be a great way to gain visibility for sustainability on campus, and kind of do a bit more of a wow factor," Whitney Williams, University of Utah sustainability said.

They're smaller panels with a bit of artistic vision. Once attached on the wall of Orson Spencer Hall they'll be made to look more like ivy growing from brick.

"The researchers are finding more ways to actually print the solar panels on to any kind of materials so they print it on recycled plastic." Myron Wilson, University of Utah sustainability manager, said.

And while each of these projects is taking a fairly large initial investment, the hope is that the benefits will be seen by future generations.

"Environmental activism and doing the right environmental thing is a good thing to do," Cain said.

Email: manderson@ksl.com

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