Solar Specifics

Written by Barb Weist from the Communications Office:

In December I posted initiating a solar project at my home. In just a few short months, it’s gone from theory to reality! In January, we had a 5.46 kW solar system installed, which should produce approximately 5151 kWh/year based on our 96% solar availability (our house sits atop a cleared hill with full south/east exposure) and 10% roof incline. This will offset approximately a third of our current energy needs, more if we can continue to economize our power use. The array will include 448 square feet of solar modules in a fixed east-facing mount using all Washington-made parts.

Gross cost for the system is over $38,000, with no sales tax, one of several incentives to do the project now. That alone is a savings of over $3,600. By going with this traveling project that groups several projects in one area together for cost savings, we saved over $2,200. A rebate from the electrical union, IBEW, of $1,000 allowed us to maximize the size of the system we got, as the system cost just over the maximum amount of the loan financing we used to fund the project until the incentives pay it off in approximately 8 years.

Next year we’ll file for the 30% federal income tax credit, a savings of nearly $12,000! Washington State has a production incentive through 2020, where they pay 54 cents us for every solar-produced kilowatt hour. Estimates show that will yield a check once a year for over $2,700. By 2020 that’s over $22,000!

With all the costs and taxes this project at full price would be nearly $42,000. After all those incentives and savings, less than $2,000 of the original cost will come out of our actual pocket, plus the financing interest on the loan for the 8 years it will take to pay it off with those incentives.

But wait, there’s more! We also get net metering with our power company, which is actually a small local cooperative. What is net metering you ask? Well, let me tell you, in simple layman’s terms (you know, the only ones I can understand!): our solar array will be hooked into the power grid. In the sunny summer/fall months, our power consumption will likely spin BACKWARDS, effectively earning us CREDIT to use in the rainier winter months when solar isn’t producing so well. Projected savings for first year are around $400. Multiply that by 8 years and we’re projected to be paid off around that time! And after that, we still earn the net metering savings. Indefinitely.

Now that the modules are in place on our roof, I get very excited on sunny days, and look at the production meter several times a week to gauge our progress. The modules feed into a power inverter, then into a production meter tracking how many solar kWH we produce, and then into our regular power meter to the grid. I can’t wait for the sunny days of summer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Bottled Water? Tap That.

Stop by the Wheelock Student Center to see the new Why Bottled Water water bottles introduced in Diner as a tactic to encourage the campus community to be conscious about drinking bottled water.

The Why Bottled Water campaign is a partnership of Students for a Sustainable Campus (SSC), Associated Students of University of Puget Sound (ASUPS), Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC), and Puget Sound’s Dining and Conference Services who together are working to decrease the number of single-use plastic water bottles sold in the Diner.

To learn more to go to the Why Bottled Water link by clicking here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Come hear Jared Paul’s Politically-Charged Poetry on March 8

Jared Paul is a performance poet and social activist based in Providence, RI, with over a decade of involvement in protesting the injustices in America. He speaks out for a gamut of movements, from sustainable living to the workers’ rights movement. He is a also a prolific spoken word artist, and has toured in over 200 cities around the world. He has been featured on NPR as well as in CMJ Magazine, The Denver Post, and the New York Times. Jared’s captivating storytelling and politically-charged poetry leads his audiences to a sobering yet optimistic reevaluation of the American life.

Come to the Rotunda on Friday, March 8th at 8 pm and it’s FREE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

InSinkErator Now in the Diner

Puget Sound is partnering with the City of Tacoma Environmental Services on a pilot “InSinkErator” project in The Diner dish room.  An InSinkErator is similar to a large, commercial garbage disposal except it is designed for effective pre- and post-consumer food waste processing.  City of Tacoma waste treatment facilities have been designed to convert pre- and post-consumer waste via the waste water system into Tagro fertilizer.  This approach is far superior to standard composting which is not feasible for our large volume operation.

The Insinkerator project is a great opportunity to sustainably manage our large volume of university food waste.  An Environmental Studies class is working with the university and city to research and assess InSinkErator effectiveness in reducing solid waste and producing Tagro product.  The city will use our pilot project and research findings to promote InSinkErator use in Tacoma restaurants. On March 1st the University installed the InSinkErator and starting this week food will begin to be composted!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Sound Sustainability Expo

March, 2, 2013, 10:00 – 3:00 | Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center | FREE

This 6th annual public event provides South Sound residents and business owners a place to discover services, products, companies, and agencies addressing sustainability needs in our community. This event was established initially by Pierce County higher education institutions and is now a partnership led by the City of Tacoma Office of Sustainability. Expo attendees will learn about multiple local goods and services, including:

Workshops throughout the day on sustainable topics:

  • transportation alternatives,
  • alternative energy sources,
  • green construction,
  • global climate change initiatives, and
  • energy conservation,
  • waste minimization and recycling,
  • how to be economically efficient and sustainable.

Make sure not to miss:

  • 10:30 AM – Designing a Sustainable Landscape
  • 12:00 PM – Solar Power Basics and Incentives
  • 1:30 PM – Spring Gardens: Starting with Seeds

New for 2013 includes:

  • Mini Tacoma Farmer’s Market
  • Art Envirochallenger Exhibit
  • School of the Arts (SOTA) interpretive environmental dance performance

Great Raffle Prizes! donated by our many generous participants.

Join the Expo on Facebook

Check out the website to learn more:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Northwest Coal Action Network Event

Coal companies want to turn the Pacific Northwest into a coal extraction and export zone, but communities across the region are fighting back by building a new movement for clean energy.  Last summer in Montana, people from across the Northwest came together for the Coal Export Action, one of the largest acts of climate-related civil disobedience in this region’s history.  This spring, Northwest climate organizations are preparing to build on this effort, by launching new campaigns aimed at harnessing the power of direct action to stop coal exports.

Come to this presentation on Thursday, February 28, from 7-8p.m. in Thompsen 175 to learn about what happened at the Coal Export Action, how to get involved in this growing movement, and why global efforts to reduce climate change depend on what happens in the Northwest.

Check out the Facebook page:!/events/428324697245903/?fref=ts

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community-Based Conservation with Visiting Chilean Conservation Biologist

Dr. Colodro, the Chile coordinator for Oikonos, a non-profit organization focused on applied ecological research and conservation, will speak about long-term community-based conservation efforts in Chile.  Specifically, she will talk about the context for community-based initiatives and share a variety of activities that Oikonos has undertaken with local communities on two remote islands, Isla Mocha and Isla Robinson Crusoe in the Juan Fernández Islands.  Following her short presentation, Dr. Colodro will lead a discussion with students about challenges and opportunities in community-based conservation.

Monday, February 25, 12-1:00pm, Thompson 310.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Lobby Day

On February 19th, Sunny Nelson, Brian Burger, Alexa Finelli, Becca Ebert, Hannah Mink, and Annie Bigalke met face-to-face with state legislators from District 27 in Environmental Lobby Day. The day began with a training on the top three environmental bills on the floor, followed by a rally with Governor Jay Inslee, and ended with lobbying Senator Jeannie Darnielle, Representative Jake Fey, and Representative Laurie Jinkins. The three Environmental Priorities on the floor were: Toxic-Free Kids and Families, Conservation Works, and Clean Energy Solutions. In addition to advocating these three bills, the students encouraged Darnielle, Fey, and Jinkins to stop the coal exports heading towards Cherry Point in Northern Washington State.

To learn more about the Environmental Priorities in Olympia click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Discussion on Climate Change Policy

On behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), you are invited to participate in the next session of the Winter/Spring 2013 CFR Academic Conference Call series on Wednesday, February 20, from 9:00 to 10:00 AM. Michael A. Levi, CFR’s David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment, and director of the program on energy security and climate change, will discuss President Obama’s climate change policies.

Before joining CFR, Dr. Levi was a nonresident science fellow and a science and technology fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of the book “On Nuclear Terrorism” and coauthor with Michael O’Hanlon of “The Future of Arms Control.” Dr. Levi was project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on climate change, co-chaired by former governors Tom Vilsack and George Pataki. He has testified before Congress and presented expert scientific evidence to the National Academy of Sciences on climate change and on nuclear security. Dr. Levi’s essays and op-eds have been published widely in journals and newspapers including “Foreign Affairs,” “Foreign Policy,” and the “New York Times.” He currently writes the CFR blog Energy, Security, and Climate.

To register email Seth Weinberger at:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Lobby Day on February 19th

Do you want to make a difference for environmental legislation in WA state? Coming up on February 19th is Lobby Day! Lobby Day is a great opportunity to meet up with representatives from over 20 influential environmental groups in WA, along with hundreds of other citizen activists to push for progressive environmental legislation in this year’s legislative session. Come in the morning to learn what bills are on the floor and how to lobby, then in the afternoon to meet with your representative.

If you register and come down to Olympia (we will arrange transportation!) for Lobby Day, you will learn how to advocate for the 3 legislative priorities being pushed for and will be able to meet up with state legislators to voice your thoughts. Click here to register and learn more. Early registration ends of the 15th!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment