In recent years, Elizabethtown College has taken steps to become more environmentally conscious.
The College has installed more efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as more energy efficient lighting. Many classrooms are equipped with motion sensors to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
This past Winter Break, high-efficiency washers and dryers were installed in all residence halls across campus.
Additionally, the College built a solar array to invest in clean, renewable energy last spring.
“Etown has always tried to be ahead of the ‘green’ curve,” assistant director of Campus Security Dale Boyer said in an email interview.
He pointed out that because of the College’s “increased awareness in energy, it makes sense to work cooperatively with members of the campus community or visitors who have committed to hybrid or full electric vehicles. This means recharging stations.”
These recharging stations are a new addition this semester.
The two new spaces are located in Lot #2, more commonly known as Hoover Lot, and Lot #7, or Brown Lot. These spaces are strictly for electric or hybrid vehicles.
They are identified by green painted lines, and there will soon be signs.
All members of the campus community received an email explaining the purpose of these spaces.
The email also explained the new parking restrictions that accompanied them. There are already cars that have been utilizing the two parking spaces and charging stations regularly.
These spaces have been largely well-received by the campus community, with Campus Security receiving a few complaints.
In terms of the actual environmental impact these charging spaces have, that is dependent upon the electricity source that is feeding the charging station. For example, the energy source could be a standard hydrocarbon-fueled electric power generator.
According to professor of engineering and geosciences Dr. Michael Scanlin, this type of energy source would have no environmental benefits.
“The electricity itself is generated from a hydrocarbon source in an extraordinarily inefficient operation,” Scanlin said in an email interview.
Conversely, “if the charging energy comes from a renewable source such as solar, then there is an environmental benefit proportional to the number of vehicles that utilize the stations to power their vehicles,” Scanlin said.
Specifically in the College’s case, the electricity source for the charging stations comes from the College’s entire electrical grid.
Approximately 25 percent of the College’s energy is supplied by the solar array.
Thus, the environmental benefit of these charging stations is equal “to the proportion of the power derived from solar,” Scanlin said, citing the 25 percent that comes from the solar array.
In other words, the more people and vehicles there are that use the spaces and charging stations, the greater the benefits to the environment.
Scanlin previously owned a hybrid vehicle, which would have used one of the new spaces, and has a passion for environmental conservation.
Students can also make their own efforts to conserve energy.
Combined with the energy generated from the solar array and any student efforts, the new parking spaces and charge stations contribute to the College’s ongoing efforts to be more environmentally friendly.