Shade for Parking and Much More

The Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) student parking lot is now home to an impressive structure of large metal beams that support solar panels, which doubles as a covering for multiple rows of parking. On rainy, hot and snowy days these spots become one of the first places students tend to park. The solar panels mounted on the structure provide 5% of the power for the entire campus to operate.

The American Recovery and Investment Act created a stimulus grant in 2009, called Project Sunburst, specifically for this project which is managed by the Maryland Energy Administration.  AACC originally wrote the grant for 500 kilowatts per hour (kWh) and allocated $500,000 to the project, but that amount was increased to 750 kWh and $750,000 in grant funds after other entities dropped out of the grant process and more funding became available.

Overall reduction of greenhouse gasses is 492 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of::

  • 1,143 barrels of oil not being burned,

  • 90 cars removed from the road for the year,

  • 55,793 gallons of gas not being used, or

  • 112 acres of trees being left intact.

AACC has a 15-year lease on the project, with the power purchased through a contract at the rate of 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour. The college also participates in the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee, which helps to lower the school’s overall energy costs by pooling resources from other college campuses and local governments.

AACC continues to look for innovative ways to educate students through new sustainability initiatives. The solar panels were built in their current position because of the southern exposure and it is the closest spot to AACC’s power plant where it would still be visible to students and visitors. This was important to to incite communication and discussion amongst campus guests on the purpose and benefits of the new structure, and foster further communication on sustainable practices. Construction began in December of 2010 and the project was up-and-running in April of 2011. The solar panel project serves as just one example of the latest sustainability projects implemented at AACC.

Renovation of the library adhered to LEED Silver standards, which are the minimum guidelines for any rehabilitation or new construction projects.

The green upgrades include the use of green construction materials which reduce energy and water usage; a 3,500 square-foot green roof that provides extra insulation for the building and slows and filters rainwater runoff; and two stormwater management ponds and four rain gardens, positioned around the campus to capture and filter polluted runoff from some of the paved parking surfaces. The campus also offers initiatives such as single stream recycling, in which recycled items such as bottles, cans, and metal products can be placed in one container without students needing to separate them.

All of these capital construction projects are initiatives of the Administrative Services Division for AACC. Campus leaders clearly recognize that by merging short-term expenditures with long-term goals and planning, initiatives can simultaneously address fiscal, ecological, and quality of life objectives. Known in the private sector as Triple Bottom Line, projects will not only provide an environmental advantage but also contribute to the reduction of budgetary costs, thereby completing efforts to integrate sustainable decision making.

AACC has a sustainability committee which consists of faculty members and students who implement new environmental initiatives around campus and plan of fairs and festivals that focus on sustainability. Each year the college hosts an Earth Day fair where students are provided with the necessary resources to get involved and lend their talents to one of these sustainable initiatives. College campuses are great places to recruit the next generation of stewards. They foster students’ desire to help the earth and future of our natural world, while instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment. The future is bright at AACC, and everyone is encourages to check out the new solar panel installation and stop in to learn more about the other green initiatives around campus.

Chesapeake Bay Health Information Maryland's Green Website

Sustainability Tip

Install a rain garden or rain barrel to catch rainwater. Stormwater rushing off of roofs and lawns carries pollution directly into streams and the Bay. Rain gardens and rain barrels slow the water down and keep pollution out of our waters. Click here for other helpful information.

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