Central implements new solar panels


Liam Jones

Solar panels located on the south side of Hinsdale Central.

In an effort to be more eco-friendly, Hinsdale Central implemented solar panels on the south facing school walls this summer.

“At some point early in June, we were working with our building engineer, and the construction company to schedule dates for the installation…throughout June and July,” said Mark Kolkman, principal.

In order to see the energy produced in real time, a display case has been constructed in the science hallway. In the past week, energy production has ranged from 10 kilowatt hours to over 40 kilowatt hours. To put it in perspective, it has drawn enough energy to light the Eiffel Tower for two minutes.

“They are hooked up in real time to a monitor in the science wing,” Kolkman said. “It charts energy over the day, week, and month.”

When Ecology Club members approached Mrs. Lisa Fernandez, science department chair,  in the fall of 2012 to work together on a solar panel initiative, she suggested that they work with students who had participated in a Toshiba-funded green trip during the summer of 2012. Various fundraisers, including a student band event and sun glasses and wristband sales, helped make the idea a reality.

Mrs. Fernandez said that the panels will not only serve as an efficient way to produce energy, but also as a studying tool for science classes. Students will have the opportunity to study the uses of solar energy and environmental impact.

The solar panels have been a part of a bigger push to be environmentally friendly at school. Other projects include the use of plants from the garden in the school lunchroom, which was also created by the Ecology Club.

“We love that the garden is pushing sustainability. By using herbs from the garden in the cafeteria, the school does not have to rely on as many shipments, eliminating that carbon footprint,” said Stephanie Jamilla, senior and co-president of Ecology Club.

“There always is [a push to be eco friendly],” Kolkman said. “The Red goes Green initiative, recycling, alternative sources of energy, green initiatives – all of those help our planet and are good for us to be endorsing as a school. It starts with students thinking about it now so they can implement them well beyond high school.”

This has been a district-wide move as both Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South have installed solar panels. The only difference is that South’s panels are mounted on the roof due to space limitations.