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southern's green initiative

Solar Panel System

Southern Adventist University recently installed a 200-kilowatt solar panel system on the roof of the Services Department building.

This considerable undertaking contributes to the institution’s strategic goal of taking on a greater role in environmental sustainability. Green electricity produced by Southern’s new system—enough to power 40 average-size houses—will be purchased by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a corporation providing power for nine million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA will then put the power on their transmission grid to be delivered to customers by local distributors such as Electric Power Board (EPB), a non-profit agency serving the City of Chattanooga.

This project’s principles and scale highlight the university’s commitment to resource stewardship.

Solar Panel Facts

These additional initiatives represent other ways the university is working to create space where students can live and learn in a beautiful, sustainable environment.

Occupancy sensors in the Verve Living System can tell if no one is in the room and automatically adjust temperature, lighting, and hot water heater controls accordingly. The system itself uses no batteries or electricity, pulling current instead from magnetic fields and solar energy already present in the room. Verve has been wired into two Southern Village apartment buildings on campus, with plans for further installations. 

Southern looks for every opportunity to replace existing outdoor lighting around campus with more energy-efficient LED bulbs. Plans are in place to install a wireless system that will allow all of our LED lights to be uniformly scaled back at off-peak hours, further lowering the electricity’s strain on natural resources.

A recent United Nations study found that 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced directly back to the production of meat. As a vegetarian campus, Southern serves almost 90,000 meat-free meals each month, contributing very little to the environmentally-damaging demand for animal products. The Adventist health message helps our planet as well as our bodies.

Student-led recycling efforts—in place at Southern for many years—recently expanded to include more bins around campus. Single-stream recycling, a process that allows all materials to be collected in one container without sorting, has also just begun. Statistics bear out that this new convenience will lead to increased recycling participation. 

The university has retained WAP Sustainability Consulting as partners in resource conservation at Southern. Their input, along with direction from our own Environmental Sustainability Committee, will push forward the green initiatives outlined in Southern’s “Vision 20/20” agenda.