Ithaca College is known to source 100% of their energy through sustainable means. Although this is an impressive claim, student opinions differ in this subject. Students were asked to react to Ithaca College’s use of Solar Power and Solar Construction. They were also asked what they might utilize or change if they could change anything.
Ithaca College needs to show students that they are fully committed to a sustainable future. Publicizing purchasing “exclusively 100% renewable wind energy “ sounds great. As does being named “sustainable” by the Princeton Review, yet IC’s students find on campus sustainability to be lacking. Nate Henderson ‘19 believed that, “Ithaca College is missing the visual support of solar power. Students need to see the usage, even if they don’t produce very much energy. I would love to see on-campus solar charging stations for student use. It would be an easy way to show that the college actually cares about sustainability, instead of just saying it.” Buildings on campus do not necessarily have to be powered entirely by solar, but it would be great to see small improvements to IC’s campus. Maybe small solar charging stations as Nate Henderson ‘19 suggests above, or even explaining to students how solar may be being used without them even realizing. A perfect example of this is the Park School of Business. The vast majority of the windows are facing directly south. Buildings facing south have the highest potential to receive sunlight throughout the day. The increased sunlight in the building naturally heats it and eventually offsets heating costs. The only thing the Park School of Business highlights in regards to sustainability is their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
The Park School of Business is one of IC’s three LEED certified buildings. However, Phoebe Ertel ‘19 brings up a valuable point that many of IC’s buildings are outdated, a direct challenge to IC’s sustainability goals. “Most of Ithaca’s buildings on-campus were built in the ‘60s and are still used today. Although the college has done a great job with new construction, they have only scratched the surface. I think they need to focus on updating buildings if they are going to do anything to benefit from solar.”, said Ertel ‘19. All of IC’s residence halls are over 20 years old. Of the 18 on-campus residence halls, 16 of them were built in between 1960 and 1970. The most recent of those 18 was Emerson hall, which was built in 1988. Many of the academic buildings are older. Buildings this old lack the appropriate insulation and window types to benefit from any solar heat gain. shown below is the Gannett Center Library on IC’s campus. The library is a center piece of campus, located in the center of the main quad. It was built in 1975, making it very outdated as well. Updating buildings is expensive. Funding for projects of this size are almost never directly out of pocket. If Ithaca College wants to receive donations to build, they need to listen to their most valuable asset, the students. A number of other students gave their opinions on the issue. Each comment is worth being brought into the discussion.
“I honestly did not even know Ithaca College used any solar. I was unaware of the solar farm in Geneva. Clearly they should be advertising their solar usage more than they are now!” – Amanda Spiezio ‘19
“Ithaca College is lacking in utilizing campus building’s rooftops as a place to install solar panels. I feel if this was incorporated into IC buildings it would cut the cost of electricity as well as reduce the need for clearing out more forested areas for the construction of solar farms.” – Mark Hassett ‘19
“I would love to see covered parking lots with solar panels on top. Ithaca college needs to use solar over parking lots, dorms, and most buildings. There is so much land on IC’s campus that is not being utilized.” – Scott Meggitt ‘21
“I really think Ithaca College needs to update classrooms and dorms to be more solar efficient. How is it that some classrooms don’t even have any windows? I think that Ithaca needs to focus on its infrastructure on-campus if they are going to be an environmentally responsible school.” - Kara Karpinski ‘19
“It would be really interesting if Ithaca College used solar lighting around campus. I also think there is a lot of potential for solar use on top of roofs, maybe even dedicate an entire building to entirely solar power.” – Matt Clements ‘20
Just like any successful business, customer fulfillment matters. In the case of any college or university, the student is their customer. They pay for a worthwhile experience. Although this is a small sample size of students from IC, there is a reoccurring theme revolving around what Ithaca is doing (or not doing) on-campus in regards to solar. Students, being important stakeholders in the college should be taken seriously, as any other customer would be treated in business. Students need to be heard today because they are tomorrow’s donators. Hopefully the suggestions and comments above can shed light on what the future of Ithaca College’s on-campus solar power could look like.