Oregon is often called the “silicon forest,” because of all the trees and technology. Not just the actual trees though, the green-ness plays into it too. So many buildings on Oregon university campuses are LEED certified (many or most of them are engineering buildings, go figure) that even without trees, we’re so green that we could be called the silicon forest.
The trees help too.
But among green universities, one’s the greenest. Oregon Institute of Technology just announced a project to power the entire school with geothermal and solar power, meaning they’ll draw no power from the grid. That’s a big deal because it means the school will be entirely sustainable in terms of power dependency. And since the school focuses on computer programming, most of what it needs is power, to keep the computers on. And little else. This project will make OIT the greenest university in the Oregon University System.
The solar panels are going to go on grazing land, near the “O” just to the north of campus. And the sheep will still be able to graze.
The project is going to be done by private investors, who will then sell energy to the school. It’s still going to cost OIT money, but a lot less than the $600,000 a year it’s currently paying for power. It’s expected to save them about $3.3 million over the next 25 years. The cool part: after that 25 years, the solar panels will be officially handed over to the university. OIT will be able to produce 100% of its power on-site.
To be fair, OIT is also the smallest university in OUS. With just under 4,000 students, it’s not much bigger than the biggest high schools in the state. Compare that to PSU’s almost 30,000 students, it’s not that surprising that the school can go entirely green for energy.
But that doesn’t change the facts: OIT is the computer science school in the state, and with this new project, there will likely be a new focus on energy conservation and smart programming. And on top of that, it’s the green school.
Note that EOU and OSU are in on it as well. EOU is great, but not focused specifically on computer science—while OSU is upgrading to 3% power produced on-site. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s still great that these three schools are doing this project!
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