We Truly Are Eco-Enlightened

Nick Vu | Staff Photographer

Sierra Magazine ranked UC Irvine 27th out of the 135 most Eco-Enlightened schools in the nation.

Much of UCI’s success can be attributed to the surrounding city of Irvine. In continuing its strides to be more eco-friendly, Irvine has begun a new solar energy initiative. In 2009, SunEdison and SPG Solar began a coalition to ignite this solar panel initiative in Irvine.

The plan is to build 21 sites in the Irvine school district. This plan is based on the discovery of $2.6 million square feet of free space for solar panels. The projected savings for the first year is $225,728 and, within 20 years, the savings should approximately be $80.5 million.

SunEdison, the two-decade-old solar energy company, will be financing, building, operating and maintaining the solar panels. These solar panels will be strategically placed on the rooftops of schools, and offices within the Irvine district.

“When you get chances in life to reduce the carbon footprint, reduce costs and help kids and a school district – it is pretty special,” said Carlos Domenech, the SunEdison President and Executive Vice President of Monsanto Electric Materials Company. “We are lucky there are school systems like Irvine that have this kind of vision.”

UCI has solar panels on top of both Natural Sciences Building I and II, provided by Deep Patel, the CEO of GoGreenSolar.com. Extending the effective solar energy initiative at UCI, the School of Physical Sciences was awarded a $3.9 million grant from the California Community Foundation to establish a Center for Solar Energy.

This center has brought about an alliance at UCI between the biology, chemistry, physics and engineering departments in order to research more efficient methods of transforming solar energy into chemical and electrical resources. UCI students can look forward to the center educating the school’s youth on the challenges faced today in the research aspect of energy resources.