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Students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs believe so strongly in the potential of solar power, they will pay an extra $5 fee per semester to install collection panels on campus buildings.
During a recent student referendum, students voted to pay the extra fees for five years. The $5 per student, per semester, fee is expected to generate $400,000.
“On an increasingly populated and warming planet, change has to happen,” Joe Lavorini, Butler, Pa., senior in geography and environmental studies, said. “This referendum is evidence of that change at UCCS.”
Lavorini serves as co-executive of Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability at UCCS. The SEAS group, as well as student government, joined forces to encourage students to place the initiative on the ballot and to encourage students to support the fee. In campaigning, the groups noted that UCCS is fast-growing and located in one of the sunniest states in the nation. Use of solar power was a logical link.
Records show that 796 UCCS students voted in favor of the increased fee and 146 against it. An additional 99 students cast votes of abstention while voting for other issues on the ballot. The referendum was part of annual campus-wide student voting to elect student government representatives and to endorse student fee increases to the university administration. Before being enacted, student fees must be approved by campus leadership and the CU Board of Regents. Both approved of the solar power fee, making UCCS one of an estimated 40 colleges and universities in the nation to have fees that support sustainability and renewable energy efforts.
Sustainability is a cornerstone in the UCCS Strategic Plan. New campus buildings will be constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “green” building standards. In 2007, UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak signed a pledge in support of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make college campuses more ecologically friendly. This fall, UCCS instituted its first campus-wide recycling program which has successfully diverted more than 25 percent of the campus waste stream to recycling.
Specific locations for the new solar panels have not been determined, according to Linda Kogan, director, Office of Sustainability. The campus recently received funding for the renovation of an existing science building and is constructing a new Science and Engineering Building. An event center expansion will begin this summer.