EWING TWP. — In 2007, The College of New Jersey entered into the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, establishing a campus-specific committee at that time which recently transitioned into formal governance as the TCNJ Environmental Sustainability Council.

Nearly 15 years after that initial endeavor, TCNJ is taking a major, tangible step toward reducing its carbon footprint with the planned installation of five "solar arrays," beginning this month with the construction of a solar panel-covered roof over parking lots 4 and 5 along the front edge of campus.

The collaboration with EZNERGY Solar Energy Solutions is expected to reduce TCNJ's CO2 output by 1.9 million tons a year, an annual cost savings of $408,000.

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"The size of the array that we're putting in here on campus is enough to power in excess of 250 homes, or in excess of 700 electric cars annually," Paul Romano, TCNJ senior director of sustainability and energy management, said.

Current inhabitants, alumni, and visitors may already know that TCNJ has been using solar panels in some form since the 1970s.

But Romano said the contemporary ones are much cheaper and more efficient at converting sunlight.

Not only that, but according to Romano, the new arrays are more in line with modern state standards.

"The regulators here in the state of New Jersey require utilities to purchase a prescribed amount of renewable energy, and efforts such as what's being witnessed here at the College help them do so," he said.

Solar power renewable energy
Solar panels (David Carillet, Getty Stock / ThinkStock)

While work will begin during the holiday recess for students, the parking lot canopies are slated for completion sometime in the spring of 2022.

Installations are expected to continue into next summer, however, with more arrays being placed atop the Brower Student Center, Armstrong Hall, Packer Hall, and Decker Hall, a mix of academic, residential, and recreational buildings.

People will not be able to see the panels on those buildings from the ground, which is aesthetically positive, Romano said.

"Some solar panels might have been considered somewhat unsightly on our stately old buildings," he said. "These new solar panels that are on the buildings themselves will not be visible."

The opposite is true for the parking lot panels, which Romano predicts will become new, signature pieces of the TCNJ landscape.

"We're expecting them to be not only prominent here on campus, but that people will be able to get up in close proximity and appreciate the technology firsthand," he said.

Patrick Lavery, a 2009 TCNJ graduate, is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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