Continued emphasis on energy and water conservation as well as investments in efficiency improvements have driven down overall campus energy and water use, as well as costs. Over the past decade, Berea has completed millions in renovations and new construction with numerous green building and energy-efficient features reflected in the practice to pursue a minimum of LEED Silver Certification standards. Berea’s Central Plant replaced its coal-fired heat plant in 2006 and eliminated the annual use of about 4,000 pounds of coal. The new system also reduced Berea’s gas use by 39% in the first year alone.
Water consumption is a particular concern for Berea College, where our source lies within the College forest. Some of the many water reduction initiatives on campus include installation of low-flow fixtures in buildings, a requirement for dual flush valves for any toilet replacements, and bottle filling stations specified as a rule for each dorm renovation.
Sustainable storm water management strategies have also been adopted including rain gardens and permeable pavements where practical in order to reduce the volume and rate of storm run-off from the campus. The newest renovation at Draper Hall will also be equipped with a rainwater collection system that will be used for flushing toilets.
Berea College has several small photovoltaic installations for demonstration and offsetting purposes. While these solar arrays constitute less than 1% of the total institutional electricity supply, they represent an educational commitment to exploring alternative energy options in the Appalachian region.
The 10X10 Campaign, which is part of the HEAL environmental service organization, is a student-led initiative encouraging Berea College to conserve as much energy as possible and to meet 10% of campus energy demand with clean and renewable sources by the year 2010. The College Administrative Committee approved the 10X10 proposal for a 1-kilowatt photovoltaic array and monitoring system for the Alumni Building, which serves as an educational demonstration for Berea students. The group raised nearly half of the costs for the installation of the solar panel through student, faculty, staff, and community pledges.
The Loyal Jones Appalachian Center recently installed 66 solar panels on the roof of Bruce-Trades to supply the electricity for the operation of its offices and programs. The 15,000 watt system is also connected to a monitoring system that provides real-time data about the amount of electricity it is producing.
The Department of Public Safety provides several emergency phones around campus. Some of them have small photovoltaic panels on top that operate the phones and blue emergency lights that indicate the location.
The Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) House in the Ecovillage includes a 1,440-watt net-metering solar electric system. Net-metering maximizes power production because power is either used immediately on-site or flows into the grid when the system produces more energy than it is using, which benefits electric utilities because solar panels generate the most power on sunny summer days when demand on the electric grid is often highest. The panels also follow the sun with an automated tracking system that also maximizes the amount of energy they collect.