Solar Panels Light Up Hunter College’s North Building

Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, members of the Hunter Sustainability Project (formerly known as the Hunter Solar Project), Hunter faculty and CUNY administrators joined together on November 14 on the roof of the Hunter North Building for the unveiling of new solar panels.

“Today we celebrate theculmination of an extraordinary student-led project,” President Raab said, “and the continuation of our commitment to make Hunter purple go green.”

The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system went live at the end of summer, and has since created 584kW of energy, the equivalent of what is required to power nineteen houses for an entire day. This has resulted in a reduction of 890 lbs. of carbon or the equivalent of 10 trees.

The solar panels will not only reduce Hunter’s carbon footprint and energy costs, but they will also serve as a valuable educational tool. Tours are planned for the general Hunter community, and the Geography and Physics Departments are establishing labs to analyze the efficiency of the systems. The data will then be accessible online.

The Hunter Sustainability Project is a group of undergrad and graduate students who promote campus-wide green initiatives, including renewable energy projects and environmental education. “This semester we will begin giving tours of the solar panels, explaining how solar panels actually workwith the photovoltaic system,” Hunter Sustainability Project member Lauren Swaddell (’11) said. “We will also discuss the possibility of New York’s being able to switch to solar energy.”

The project began in 2008, when Noah Ginsburg (’10) and a group of students approached the Hunter administration and Undergraduate Student Government (USG) for financial support. With the assistance of faculty advisor Geography Professor Allen Frei, and with the support of the Hunter College Sustainability Council, the students raised the $74,000 required to complete the project, receiving $17,500 from the Hunter administration, $16,500 from USG, a $1,000 from the CUNY Sustainability Initiative, a $35,000 match from CUNY and a $4,000 grant from the Clinton Global Initiative for educational programs. Ginsburg was not able to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony since he now works for a solar company in Oakland. He did address the attendees via video.

“This was a community solar project,” Ginsburg said. “Our vision became a reality thanks to the hundreds of students, faculty members, staff and partners that contributed their time, energy, and resources to making it happen. For the next 25-plus years this solar energy system will generate thousands of hours of clean electricity for Hunter College.”

There is still plenty of space on the other Hunter buildings for an even bigger array of solar panels,” Professor Frei said.