Butte College of Oroville, Calif., is on a sustainability mission. One goal is to be grid-positive by 2012,and another is to be carbon-neutral by
2015. Well on its way toward achievingthose goals, the college recently installedon a campus parking garage more than
2000 solar modules that will produce
545,400 k Wh each year.
Mike Miller, director of facilities,predicts that the campus will producenearly all of the electricity it needs by2012. In fact, it’s already producingnearly 50 percent of its electricity fromsolar.
Besides generating energy, the campushas been saving energy by installing LEDlighting and occupancy sensors, and ithas taken steps toward water conservation.According to Miller, “The metrics areinteresting” because even though recentbuilding construction has added about50 percent more square footage, thecollege has managed to decrease energyuse and cost by 30 percent.
Teaching the talk
At Butte, it’s not just about practicingsustainability; it’s about teaching it. Theschool offers a green building constructionprogram and various sustainabilitydegrees, and it is involved with a programthat retrains construction workers in solarinstallation. Miller said that the facilitiesdepartment, although it is not integratedinto the official curriculum, is involvedwith student orientation, showing studentsthe solar photovoltaics and other sustainable initiatives on campus right from dayone. Four kiosks demonstrate energyproduction on a screen. Miller said thesework really well, “and are so sensitive thatif a cloud goes over, you see a drop inproduction.” In August, the school hostedits third annual conference focusing oninstitutional sustainability and energyprojects for colleges, and it offered grouptours of its solar setup. So at Butte,sustainability teaching extends far beyondthe campus community. ;
In California, Butte College of Oroville has taken giant steps toward grid independence while also teachingsolar installation and other green skills.