Each Spring Semester, when Environmental
Ethics is taught, the students develop a class project that teaches them something new about
how to live more lightly on the earth. The class of Spring 2004 had two projects, and one of
them was to develop a sense of solidarity with Oxtoby
residents to decrease the amount of energy they used for laundry, dishes, and showers. All
in all they concluded that the savings from personal conservation was minor because of the
structure of the building and the difficulty of conservation.
So they decided to submit a proposal to
the Facilities Committee to install solar panels to heat the water at Oxtoby. The proposal
noted the solar panels, if used to heat water, would result in a savings of 12,000 pounds of
CO2 emissions in one month. Two students, Jennifer Grantham and Heather Isaacs took the project
proposal to the meeting, on which Peter Barnes-Davies, also
a student, sits.
The Facilities Committee was quite impressed with the research that informed
the proposal, and expressed a general hope that SFTS will in the future install solar panels
on all the student residences that have favorable aspects to the sun. But, in light of deferred
maintenance that must be done in the coming budget year, the Committee turned down the proposal
while at the same time commending it to Sandy McNutt, Vice President for Seminary and Church
Relations, for special fund-raising.
thereafter, Martha Longbrake, a Trustee, notified Sandy that the Longbrake Family Foundation
was accepting proposals for affordable student housing. Sandy submitted the proposal for the
Solar Panels at Oxtoby, and the $20,000 proposal was funded. The panels were installed in late
January, 2005. We are eager to compare the natural gas usuage for this month with the same
month last year.
In light of recent information that global
climate change has definitely begun, recognizing that the US has not joined the Kyoto Treaty,
but that the cost of electricity and natural gas will continue to rise, we dare to hope that
this project will become part of a larger SFTS commitment to an integrated program of environmental
awareness and ethical responsibility. We believe we can capture much more solar energy and
lower our use of fossil fuels to power theological education.
Members of the Solarizing Oxtoby Project
were Heather Isaacs, Jennifer Grantham, Chip Roland, Sally Karst, Jie Jiao, and Ward Strothers.