President Barack Obama met with Salt Lake Community College representatives during his visit to Utah last week. Their inclusion in the proceedings illustrates the college’s importance in the government’s push to expand solar energy.
During his remarks at Hill Air Force Base, President Obama announced two major initiatives: to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020, and establish a Solar Ready Vets Program to help military members become employable after service. Veterans may also use GI Bill benefits for solar job training.
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, solar employment has grown by 86 percent over the last five years and 22 percent since last year. With the latest initiatives, that number will continue to climb.
SLCC started its solar training program in 2009. Housed under the Green Academy/Energy Institute, the program allows students to learn how to install solar photovoltaic panels and become certified in sales of solar panels.
While SLCC is being recognized for it’s green job training programs, the college also uses solar energy at multiple campuses and is environmentally conscious.
“Almost the entire roof of the Lifetime Activities Center [has solar panels], the roof on the Science and Industry Building [at Taylorsville Redwood Campus], the Auto Trades building at Miller Campus, and the next big ones are located on the shops right outside [The Gunderson Building],” says Robert Askerlund, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services.
More tools are coming online to measure the college’s energy efficiency.
“At the Science and Industry building we can pull up how much energy we’ve produced at the end of the month. Trees offset the same amount of carbon as 55.3 kilowatt hours of clean energy production, and so far this month we have offset a little over a half a tree. For the lifetime of the system, about eight years so far, it has offset the same carbon as 1,270 trees,” says Askerlund.
Some of the data is providing promising results.
“Charging a mobile phone for a solid month uses 2.65 kilowatt hours of energy. So far this month we’ve produced enough power to charge the average phone continuously for 11 months. The lifetime of the system it has produced enough to charge a cell phone for 2,177 years,” says Askerlund.
This data is just from the Science and Industry building, which is relatively smaller than the Lifetime Activities Center on the Redwood Campus.
“We are guaranteed of the production of 2.7 million kilowatt hours of energy in the next five years, which will be offsetting 35 percent of the LAC’s electricity consumption each year,” Askerlund says.
Askerlund believes SLCC is also doing its share to help out in other areas.
“We’re trying to do a lot,” says Askerlund. “In addition to the B-Line, with our college fleet of cars we are probably over 50 percent electric or compressed natural gas. We have our own CNG filling station [at Redwood], which is open to the public so they can fuel vehicles there.”
Between offering degree and certificate programs in energy management and it’s environmentally conscious facilities, SLCC is making strides to ensure students have a greener future.