Sustainable development

Students advocating for solar energy

What began as a Grade 5 Expo project has become a campus-wide mission to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as Solar for East launches this month.

The East Campus programme follows in the footsteps of the hugely successful Solar for Dover initiative, which has installed over 565 solar panels across two buildings since it began in 2014. Now into the fourth year of operation, Solar for Dover remains a popular activity for Middle and High School students, and the team is currently just 20 panels away from reaching their 2017/2018 installation goal.

Plans for the East solar initiative have been months in the making, with students from across Middle School leading the charge for renewable energy. Working closely with Simon Thomas, Director of Facilities at UWCSEA, they have created a proposal to install over 1,000 panels on East Campus that will significantly reduce the College’s carbon dioxide emissions.

“Energy generation is still the leading contributor of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the fact that our buildings are quite environmentally friendly, we still consume 5975 MWh of unsustainably generated electricity per year. Solar panels will help alleviate our harmful impact on the environment and potentially save 173,625.42 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being emitted each year.” Hemal, Grade 9 and founding member of Solar for East

Aside from enhancing environmental activism and awareness within the College, the solar programmes on both campuses provide a wealth of learning opportunities. Activities run each week, and student members lead the marketing, communication and fundraising elements of the programme.

Both Solar for East and Solar for Dover are fundraising partnerships with UWCSEA Foundation. Portions of panels can be adopted, starting from as little as $100 and panels are installed in batches of 100. A core part of the programme is the opportunity to be involved in the physical installation process, which is led by students, together with staff from the Facilities team.
From class project to campus initiative
Raghav Shukla (Class of 2015, Dover Campus) became interested in solar panels after completing his Grade 5 Exhibition project, which focused on sustainable energy. The idea of solar panels continued to weigh on his mind and so much so that in 2012 he decided to make contact with the Facilities Department and discuss his ideas.

Following the positive conversation, he began to put together a proposal. In May 2013 he presented it to the Facilities Committee (which makes the decisions about building development at the College), and it was approved. From there ‘Solar for Dover’ was presented to the College Board and adopted by UWCSEA Foundation as one of their fundraising projects for Sustainable Development.

The programme launched in November 2014. Since then members of the community, including students, staff, parents and alumni have come together to adopt and install over 565 panels.

To adopt a solar panel on either campus or to find out more about this remarkable programme, visit the Solar for UWCSEA website.