CRC uses solar power to go green

Jelina Cortero, Staff Writer

Cosumnes River College has recently had new and exciting projects, and with new technological developments, CRC now has the ability to harness solar energy.

Rick Stewart, 57, a television production and digital media major, used his physical geography term project as an opportunity to construct “The Sol of CRC” video explaining how CRC’s parking garage photovoltaics system works, as well as how the Winn Center uses sunlight for natural lighting and power generation.

“We focused on the things going on here at Cosumnes River, the parking garage and some of the improvements in the Winn Center,” Stewart said. “They had solar panels on top but they also had solar lights which really was kind of a turn on for me.”

On the roof of the parking structure, there are 1,056 solar panels grouped together called a solar array. The solar array uses sunlight and converts it into the energy used in the structure. The display boards you see on the structure as well as the elevators are all powered by solar energy.

According to Stewart’s video, the parking structure’s estimated power usage is 433,000 kilowatt hours per year, and it conservatively creates 90 percent of the parking structures energy needs. On averages, CRC’s energy system could supply power to 34 and a half houses in California.

The solar industry admits all these estimates are on the extremely conservative side, so it’s very possible that the structure pays for itself, and may even create a small profit as well, according to Stewart’s video.

The video continues to explain how the solar energy used in the parking structure not only benefits the school, but also provides sustainable energy and helps some of the newer buildings, such as the Winn Center.

Jim West, professor of photography, talks very animatedly in the video about the new solar tubes in the photography department located in the Winn Center.

“Photography, you know, is all about light. We can walk into a room and it’s already lit up without turning on any lights at all, so that’s just amazing for us,” West said in the video. “For me, personally, it just feels amazing to be able to be in a new building that benefits from solar power.”

Stewart, with the help of others, including geography professor Debra Sharkey, put together “The Sol of CRC” video in acknowledgment to solar energy and its benefits to the school and environment.

“None of us are as green as we’d like to be, but I try and do the best I can with whatever I can,” Stewart said.

Both Sharkey and Stewart share the same passion about ecological sustainability and they said that they want to make a difference in the world, whether it be in their own lives or in the lives of others.

“I started the environmental studies and sustainability program here at CRC, and I try to do what I can in my own life to live a little lighter on this planet, minimize resource consumption and teach others to do the same thing,” Sharkey said.