By Senior Communications Intern Angelina Fierko '22
Pope Francis calls upon us to be disciples of our earth, showing the importance of preserving God’s creation that we call home. It is Notre Dame’s mission to use our Catholic values to guide us in the direction of protecting our planet and its people. To that end, last spring Notre Dame began the process of installing solar panels.
The decision to convert ND into a solar-energy run school required thoughtful and dedicated research. The plan had to be approved by our Board of Governors and the Diocese of Trenton, taking into consideration the economic benefits to our school and the local community. Notre Dame President Ken Jennings looked towards other schools in the Diocese that have already installed solar panels as an example for ND.
“I reached out to other schools about the benefits and drawbacks. I heard from them that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I knew this would be a great way for ND to be a good steward of our planet and our local community” Mr. Jennings said.
ND was excited to partner with an alumni-owned company, Geoscape Solar, to install solar panels onto the roof of the school. Solar energy reduces air pollution, water usage and is known to be one of the most effective means of combating climate change.
On the weekend of November 14th, Notre Dame’s hallways, classrooms and offices became vacant as the electricity was shut off in order to convert us to a school that runs on solar power.
Beyond the positive environmental impact, there are also economic and academic benefits to solar energy. The cost savings can be applied to new academic opportunities for students and faculty.
“Whenever you go green like this, you are going to be saving money that you would be putting towards more fossil fuel energies,” says Mr. Jennings.
The installation of the solar panels is also a learning opportunity for students on the steps needed to take care of the environment for current and future generations.
“It provides an academic awareness for students to figure out from a scientific standpoint how we can better harness those natural elements that produce this kind of energy” Mr. Jennings explains.
The journey to make ND go green does not end at the solar panels. The lights throughout the halls and classrooms have been changed to LED lighting. LED lights are energy-efficient and have a long lifespan, reducing how frequently the lights need to be switched out.
Notre Dame is currently looking to become a Green Ribbon School that prides itself on environmental excellence. The solar panels and LED lights are just the beginning of this process and we continue to discover how we can move forward in terms of sustainability and ecological awareness towards our planet.