A greener Weber

A single solar panel sitting outside of the Shepherd Union building.

WSU’s Department of Energy and Sustainability has been working hard to offset carbon production from the university. The campus, which is already 18.7% powered using renewable energy from Rocky Mountain Power, has added solar panels around campus, a fully electric bus system and plans to involve sustainability in their upcoming construction projects.

“The biggest one right now is the Dee Events Center that is in early design, and my goal for that is for it to be carbon-neutral by the time we’re done,” Justin Owen, energy manager at WSU, said. “The other big one that is just getting going is the [McKay] education building, which will get a serious overhaul.”

Through these changes, buying carbon offsets and more efforts in the near future, WSU is on track to reach their goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2040.

“The next project planned is putting in a solar covered parking structure over the pay lot,” Jennifer Bodine, sustainability manager in the Energy and Sustainability Office, said. “At the Davis Campus, we will just add solar as we need it to the existing solar field that is out there. Also, a good portion of WSU’s renewable energy will come from wind or solar that is located off site.”

WSU has made smaller switches in order to further their sustainability goals. The campus has switched to LED lightbulbs and electrified heating and cooling systems, and many of the exercise machines in the Stromberg Complex generate electricity when used.

“We have a comprehensive sustainability plan to ensure that we reach a number of other sustainability goals around water, food, air quality, waste, purchasing, academics and engagement,” Bodine said.

Completed projects around Weber have also worked to make WSU a more sustainable campus.

“The new Noorda Engineering Building uses like 70% less energy than Tech Ed. did, but even though it’s bigger, we are electrifying the campus; we’re getting rid of natural gas consumption, and instead of using large mechanical equipment like chillers or boilers, we’re putting in ground-source fuels and getting heat from the Earth to heat and cool our buildings,” Owen said.

The Department of Energy and Sustainability wants students and the community to be involved in creating a greener campus, for both current and future WSU students. The Department of Energy and Sustainability has released a Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan, both available on their WSU webpage.

“It’s something that I hope the campus is proud of and something that I hope our students can learn about while they’re here and take with them in their careers, regardless of where you might end up,” Owen said.