Lehigh University students and faculty installing solar panels near the Community Garden


Toward Energy Independence

In line with Lehigh’s energy-conscious efforts, six students led an initiative earlier this year to install solar panels next to the Community Garden on campus.

The project was part of Lehigh’s Mountaintop initiative and was pioneered by Bill Best, professor of practice in electrical and computer engineering, and Breena Holland, associate professor of political science and a participating faculty member in Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative. Both served as advisors to the students.

The Mountaintop project was based on the idea of sustainable farming at the gardens, with a goal of creating an energy-independent food-growing farm. The 16 solar panels produce a maximum of 255 watts each, creating a maximum ceiling of more than 4,000 watts of energy.

The panels are just one of several sustainability efforts at Lehigh. Last year, the university embarked on a bike sharing program, earned a certification from the Green Restaurant Association for sustainability efforts, offered 77 sustainability-related courses, was given a silver award from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), and diverted 54 percent of total waste from landfills through campus-wide recycling efforts.

"The challenges of our world, our time, are complex—food, water, and natural resource scarcities; religious, ethnic, and political conflicts; disease and poverty; energy availability and its impact on our Earth environment—and addressing them—even properly understanding them—requires integration of a broad range of perspectives and disciplines."
John D. Simon President