News From the East Bay Green Corridor

Practice What You Teach

The Peralta Community College District not only trains students in sustainability—Laney College, for example, offers programs in environmental control technologies, solar panel installation, and green technology—it also aims toward net zero carbon emissions in its operations and facilities. “That is actually the stated goal of the board of trustees,” said Charles Neal recently, Energy and Environmental Sustainability Manager for the Peralta Community College District. The district has made great strides to reach that goal, enabled by Peralta's $390 million measure A bond, passed in June of 2006. Sixteen million of that funding was earmarked for district-wide solar.

Going Solar

In addition to implementing energy efficiency measures, the district has turned to renewable energy for some of its energy needs, and solar will fulfill a significant portion of those needs. “Currently, we’re on our way to installing just under two megawatts (MW) of solar power throughout the district,” said Neal.

In 2010, Merritt College constructed a 1.2 MW system as a new carport. Between January 1st to July 31st of this year, that system had already offset 639 tons of carbon emissions—enough to power approximately 80 homes for an entire year. Laney College features an 230  kilowatt (kWh) system at its athletic field house, with plans to add another 600 kWh, via roof-mounted solar systems. Because the Berkeley City College campus, consisting of one, 5-storey building, has limited space for a PV roof system, a small 30 kWh system will be installed there.

Demonstration Sytems

Cutting-edge cleantech startup companies often seek out demonstration sites—real estate available for setting up, running and testing their systems. After an introduction through Green Corridor Director Carla Din, Neal recently met with the founders of ergSol, a solar-thermal technology company, about setting up a demonstration site. With a bistro, a student cafeteria, and facilities for its two-year culinary program, Laney College consumes significant hot water, making it an ideal choice for a solar-thermal system.

“To be able to transfer the hot water electricity demand  from the main electricity supply and have them receive their required power from a separate solar-thermal-photovoltaic system would be fantastic for us,” explained Neal.

But the benefits go beyond a reduction in energy consumption. If these demonstration systems prove successful and companies establish manufacturing hubs in the East Bay, “it introduces our students to these cutting-edge technologies right on their campuses and helps create jobs for them when they graduate from our career technical education programs,” said Neal. “It helps to lift the East Bay up—the job market, the downtown [areas] and minority communities. We are very supportive from top to bottom in that kind of effort.”

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