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Environmentally Conscious Campus

06/24/2010

An environmentally conscious campus that actively seeks new ways to reduce its carbon footprint, MCLA recently added two sets of solar-powered pedestrian crosswalk warning signs to alert drivers that they need to slow down for students as they cross the street.

According to James Stakenas, MCLA's vice president of administration and finance, "We're always concerned about the speed of traffic moving around the campus. We wanted to do something that was attention-getting, but was efficient and affordable. They flash all the time and they're powered by the sun."

SolarLocated at two major crossing areas on campus - at the Berkshire Towers residence hall and the Berkshire Towers parking lot in front of historic Murdock Hall, and on Ashland Street near the townhouse residence area and the campus' facilities building - the solar-powered signs are just the latest in green improvements added to the college.

"For every four hours of sunlight they get, they can flash for three days," Stakenas said about the new warning signs. "They were very affordable because we didn't have to run any electrical lines, which gets complicated. And, they run off of the sun, so there's no maintenance costs in terms of their operation."

Although the signs do not provide sufficient energy to affect the college's carbon footprint, "At the same time, we're able to have this safety feature with no additional impact on the carbon footprint because we're not using electricity," Stakenas said. "And, we're able to add a safety feature to campus with no ongoing expense."

The new solar-powered signs do more warn drivers to slow down as students safe cross the street - they provide send another important message: "When visitors come to campus and park, they see the solar-powered cell phones for emergency use. And, as they approach campus, they see the solar-powered pedestrian signs, bringing attention to the fact that it's a great attempt to support the environment," Stakenas said.

Last year, MCLA installed several solar-powered emergency cell phones in parking lots around the campus. And, in 2005, MCLA installed a small photovoltaic array on top of Venable Hall.

While this array contributes power toward the campus operations, it functions primarily as a laboratory for students in the environmental studies department. The public also may monitor the array's power outlet, the sunlight-in watts-per-square-meter, as well as the air temperature and the wind speed on the roof top at http://www.soltrex.com/systems.cfm?systemid=S00000000263&sortby=site&ascdesc=asc&startrow=121&watchid=SW0000000000&state=&q .

With a list of future energy-efficient projects that includes a larger array of solar panels and window and door replacements, Stakenas said the college's Green Team - a group of students, faculty and staff who meet regularly to discuss ways in which the college might reduce its carbon footprint - constantly looks for opportunities to save energy while keeping the campus cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

To see more environmental studies facilities at MCLA, go to www.mcla.edu/Undergraduate/majors/environmentalstudies/facilities .