The College of Lake County — which has received national recognition for its commitment to adding environmentally friendly features — is about to get even greener.
Work will begin next month to install solar panels on 2 acres of land on the west side of the Grayslake campus and atop the roofs of six buildings. The project is expected to be done by March.
Once the installation is complete, nearly 20% of CLC’s electricity needs will be provided by the new solar panels.
Under an agreement signed by the CLC board, the panels will be installed by Chicago-based Verde Solutions LLC. The company will own the panels for 20 years and charge the school for using the energy generated. The school will save about $32,000 a year buying greener power generated from the panels. And after 20 years, the school will own the panels.
David Husemoller, CLC’s sustainability manager, said the agreement was made possible by the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016.
“We’ve been thinking about how to use the law for a couple of years, but it takes a lot of planning to make sure we have our ducks in a row,” Husemoller said.
Husemoller said while work on the ground solar panels will begin right away, some of the roof sections need to be replaced or repaired before panels can be installed. He said the roof work was going to be done in the next few years anyway, but it was moved up to coincide with the arrival of the solar panels.
“It’s a win-win for the college, we get updated roofs as well as solar panels on the roofs,” Husemoller said.
Husemoller said he felt it was important to have some of the solar panels on the ground to provide a visual reminder to the CLC community.
“It’s a reminder that the technology is here and there are jobs out there related to this,” Husemoller said. “It’s a nice way to inspire students to find those sustainable solutions that might be at our fingertips.”
Husemoller said the ground panels will also be added to the school’s Living Lab Trail, which winds inside and outside the Grayslake campus and is dotted with signs explaining environmental features as well as how local efforts can help address global challenges.
At present, CLC’s highly touted Science Building has 187 solar panels on one section of its roof.
CLC was one of five colleges in the country to be honored with a Green Ribbon by the U.S. Department of Education this year.
The Science Building’s environmentally friendly design has helped earned the college other green awards, including the Emerald Award for Building Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in 2018. In 2017, CLC earned a “silver” rating from the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education. And in 2016, CLC won the American Association of Community Colleges Green Genome Award, a national award for sustainability.