Green Initiative - Solarizing Oxtoby
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.

Shortly 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.


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