Solar energy makes the San Bernardino Community College District more powerful

On September 10, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 100, an environmental measure that would require all of California’s electricity production to come from non-carbon based sources. The movement to steer towards cleaner energy has been underway for quite some time now, but only recently has California finally set an expiration date on electricity production that produces environmentally harmful by-products.

The path to efficient energy conservation, production, and sustainability has been one long desired by many institutions across the nation, especially in the world of higher education. One who is no such stranger to the movement is the San Bernardino Community College District.

In this plan, SBCCD infrastructure was planned to be retrofitted with solar panels, to establish a more sustainable transportation system via buses that produce clean energy, to have more efficient water and power usage, to upgrade technology, fuel cells and battery storage, as well as renovate old or create new buildings that exemplified ultra-efficient building design standards.

“We are going to save a ton of energy,” said Farrah Farzaneh, who was hired in March as the Sustainability and Energy manager for the San Bernardino Community College District, which includes San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College. “By using renewable energy sources and reducing our energy use, our goal is to use only as much energy as we produce.”

The San Bernardino Valley College Gymnasium and Physical Education facility earned Silver LEED certification for meeting sustainability standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Farzaneh works at the district office, where a large carport covered with SunPower solar panels produces energy while it shades the cars parked below. It’s a win-win solution in sunny San Bernardino. And it is a very visible part of a project between the district and Southern California Edison.

Other changes that will be implemented at the district office include bringing in more natural light, replacing fluorescent lights with LED, switching to more efficient air conditioners and making sure that lights and equipment are turned off when they are not in use.

Put them together and the district office could get to a net zero energy state — producing as much renewable energy as it is using.

“Students are very excited about us taking this route,” said Hussain Agah, the district’s director of Facilities Planning & Construction. “It’s not just that they want to protect the environment, but they like the idea of being efficient with our resources.”

Several buildings from San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College have earned LEED certifications, which meet exacting standards for sustainability set by the U.S. Green Building Council. In fact, the district earned a nod for best practices in large scale planning for sustainability from the 2018 annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

“Creating a culture of clean energy and sustainability is a win-win situation, one that benefits our wider college community as well as the environment,” said SBCCD Chancellor Bruce Baron. “We are proud that San Bernardino Community College District is playing a leading role to keep our world healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable for the next generation.”

The Physical Education Complex at Crafton Hills College achieved a LEED Platinum rating through sustainable design strategies such as passive solar orientation, daylighting, recycled and renewable materials, a cool roof, on-site stormwater detention and treatment, water-efficient landscaping, airflow monitoring, solar power, and occupancy and photometric sensors.

San Bernardino Community College District opens doors of opportunity for 20,000 students at Crafton Hills College & San Bernardino Valley College. www.sbccd.edu

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