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Solar sustainability at Lehigh

As part of Lehigh’s energy-conscious efforts, six students led an initiative over the summer of 2016 to install solar panels next to the Community Garden on the Goodman Campus.

The project was part of Lehigh’s Mountaintop initiative and was pioneered by Bill Best, professor of practice in mechanical engineering and mechanics, and Breena Holland, associate professor of political science and a participating faculty member in Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative. Both served as advisors to the students.

The Mountaintop project was based around the idea of sustainable farming at the gardens—to create an energy-independent food-growing farm. As a result, 16 solar panels now sit on Goodman Campus, 12 of which were purchased several years ago with money from an Integrated Product Development (IPD) program grant.

The panels, completed and installed in May 2016, are a source of alternative energy to power the water pump at the gardens and to offset the energy used by the nearby transportation building. The 16 panels produce a maximum of 255 watts each, creating a maximum ceiling of just over 4,000 watts of energy.

"Having these panels means we use their energy from the sun instead of needing to use a diesel generator," explained Holland.

Because a lot of planning and strategy went into gathering the resources necessary to install the panels, they were not installed until almost a year after the summer Mountaintop project had concluded.

“A lot of what we did was putting together proposals for the panel installation, because we needed more funding,” said senior IDEAS major Michael Miller ’17, who worked directly on the plans for the solar panels and the sustainable farming project.

The panels are part of a larger push toward a more sustainable university.

Read the full story in the Fall/Winter 2016 Edition of the Lehigh Bulletin.

-Henry Greenberg is a senior journalism major at Lehigh University and a freelance writer with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

February 1, 2017

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