For the third consecutive year, Centre College has received a $10,000 grant from the Pepsico Zero Impact Fund (ZIF) to support renewable energy efforts on campus.
In 2017 and 2018, Centre received support for the College’s first renewable energy project installed on the roof of Chowan Multipurpose Building. The first phase of the installation was completed in 2017, and the second grant extended the number of panels to the maximum allowed by Kentucky regulations. The 2020 grant will be used to install a 12kW on-campus solar photovoltaic system on Olin Hall.
Now in its third year, the Zero Impact Fund (ZIF) allows colleges or universities to submit proposals to create or strengthen green initiatives on campus. A judging panel then votes on the projects having the most impact, shortening the line between concept and action. Only 27 institutions were chosen nationwide, doubling the number of previous years.
“At PepsiCo, we believe that building a circular economy is the key to a sustainable future,” says Tom Mooradian, Pepsico’s manager of environmental sustainability. “This year’s winning projects are largely focused on implementing circular economies on a small scale within college communities, demonstrating their impact in a highly tangible way. Projects of this scale within closed campus environments can create precedent and then build toward a model for implementation in wider society.”
An exciting peripheral benefit of Pepsico’s grants is the additional support it has generated. In 2017 and 2018, Pepsico’s ZIF funding was over-matched with donations from Centre’s Student Government Association (SGA), the Parents Fund, and current students, alumni and friends of the college. This year, $15,000 has been raised, extending the $10,000 from Pepsico toward a total project cost of $36,500.
Centre students have long been interested in renewable energy. With leadership from Liza Goss ’19 (Lebanon, N.H.), president of Centre Environmental Association (CEA), and Kevin Wagoner ’20 (Hixson,Tenn.), CEA treasurer and member of the executive committee of Student Government Association, students prepared the grant application, solicited proposals from solar companies in Kentucky, and were involved in selecting the contractors. These efforts support three primary strategies for reducing GHG emissions; energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, both on- and off-campus. Photovoltaic arrays reduce the amount of electricity the College buys from the grid, thereby reducing Centre’s environmental impact.
“CEA has seen increased interest in renewable energy projects in recent years following the addition of solar panels on Centre’s campus,” Goss says. “Students in CEA, as well as the larger student body, have become more committed to finding sustainable approaches to everyday activities, especially through use of renewable energy. The opportunity to increase the number of photovoltaic cells on Centre’s campus would further our commitment to renewable energy and other initiatives aimed at preserving the environment for generations to come.”
Olin Hall was chosen for the solar photovoltaic system due to its upcoming renovation, made possible by a grant from the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio. The renovation will include significant improvements in energy efficiency, making it a focus for sustainability discussions on campus. In addition, Olin’s central location, the visibility of the roof locations selected for the installation, and its proximity to major pedestrian traffic means that every student will see this equipment almost every day of their undergraduate career.
Also included in the project will be web-enabled monitoring equipment to provide real-time information on instantaneous and cumulative energy production through the College’s website. The installation also will be incorporated in campus tours for prospective students and other visitors.
by Cindy Long
April 26, 2019
Above: CEA members built a mobile garden cart from reclaimed wood to increase awareness of gardening efforts and general sustainability efforts on campus. They plan to use it to advertise the Centre Garden, as well as all of the progress that the newly formed Centre Garden Club has made this year in revitalizing the campus garden. It was unveiled on Earth Day, March 22, as a way to celebrate the positive sustainability changes on campus: (from left) Noah Gill ’21, Kevin Wagoner ’20, CEA treasurer and SGA executive committee, David McGrade ’21, incoming CEA president, and Liza Goss ’19, outgoing CEA president.