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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    Gonzaga commits to cleaner energy

    Last year, Gonzaga added solar panels to the top of Cantwell-Reusch. (Photo by Mrs. Teresa Jackson)

    The global movement and awareness of our planet’s needs has increased significantly over the past two decades. People have become more informed and scientists give more warnings to help the environment. The use of fossil fuels and damaging levels of carbon dioxide emissions harm the planet every single day.

    Roughly two years ago, the Jesuits decided it was time to take action. They decided, along with their mission partners like Gonzaga, they were going to make a commitment to improvements in vital areas with the Society of Jesus. 

    Father Arturo Sosa, S.J. wrote a letter of “Four Apostolic Preferences”. Among these areas was “Caring for our Common Home”. This area was intended to educate about God’s creation, the Earth, and explain the importance of caring for it. There is only one Earth, so keeping it as healthy as possible is essential. 

    More panels on the roof of the Carmody Center. (Photo by Teresa Jackson)

    The dedication to the protection and renewal of God’s creation is more than just that. Jesuit partners, such as centers for higher education, are instructed to educate students about the importance of maintaining the environment and finding areas of improvement wherever possible. It is also important to recognize the root causes of these issues, as well as how the solutions can be intertwined with our faith. 

    The timing of this project aligned with the District of Columbia’s increased Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) standard. This is a project in the District that forces electricity suppliers in DC to have a certain percentage of renewable energy. The percentage in 2020 was 20%, which was met, but the new goal on the horizon is in 2032. By this time, the District hopes to be running on 50% renewable energy.

    Gonzaga acted in accordance with both of these plans, putting 757 solar panels on the roofs of the Carmody Center, Cantwell Hall and Ruesch Hall. These panels will produce about 20% of Gonzaga’s energy, which will reduce the school’s footprint and help meet the RPS standard. 

    So far in 2021, the panels have provided 883.91 kWh (kilowatt-hour) and avoided 619 kg of Carbon Dioxide emissions.

    The installation also provides a great opportunity for students in Mr. John Ausema’s AP Environmental Science class to go on the roof to see the panels for themselves.

    “I am happy to see that Gonzaga decided to install these solar panels on our roof—primarily because I think the church and related institutions should take the idea of  ‘creation care’ seriously, as Pope Francis encouraged us to do in his encyclical, Laudato Si.  By using these panels, we are reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burned to provide electricity for the grid, which is a positive move on a number of fronts.  The fact that we will earn money from the panels is an added bonus!”

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      Carol CorganMay 17, 2021 at 8:13 am

      Patrick–Great article. I’m especially happy that you referred to Father General and the Apostolic Preference of Care for the Environment, as well as Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si”.