Sustainability professor proposes solar panels for Knowlton

In response to the idea to place solar panels atop the Knowlton Center by David Kreuger, the professor and chair of sustainability, President Bob Helmer said that the University is in favor of solar panels, but that the Knowlton Center may not be an ideal place because of tree coverage.


Sophia Rossero

A sunny day of the August E. Knowlton Center

David Krueger, professor and chair of sustainability at Baldwin Wallace University, proposed the idea of covering the roof of the Knowlton Center in solar panels, a move that President Bob Helmer would support, but who has shared concerns over trees in the area blocking the panels.  

As of right now, there are no concrete plans to place solar panels on Knowlton. If solar panels were to be installed on Knowlton, Krueger said that it would not be a hard process.  

President Bob Helmer said that he does not think he has received a formal proposal for installing solar panels on Knowlton.  

“What we’ve done in the 11 years I’ve been here, buildings that can have solar panels, we put many on,” Helmer said. “We’re in favor of solar panels.” 

Due to the tree coverage, Knowlton is not an ideal building to install solar panels, but there are numerous sustainability initiatives to be proud of, Helmer said, as different schools have come to Baldwin Wallace to see the sustainability projects and how they operate. 

Helmer said that the architects did incorporate sustainability initiatives when designing Knowlton. Some of these initiatives are tinted glass, solar slants and the wood in the elevator shaft that came from saved trees. 

“We kept the environment and sustainability in mind as we designed and built it,” Helmer said. 

Krueger said that there are several pros and only one con for installing solar panels. As for pros, solar panels are more affordable today, they give free energy, and they have a life expectancy of around 25 years. The con is finding the money to fund the project. 

Helmer said that they try to balance out money usage with all the other campus organizations and that when deciding on which sustainability projects will be implemented, it comes down to how much money it will cost.  

Krueger said that he wishes for more independent fundraising, as there are some universities that have created a green fund. A green fund takes some amount of money and puts it towards environmental projects, acting like a loan. An example of a university with a green fund is Harvard University, Krueger said.  

Along with sustainability projects, there are also sustainability groups students can join on campus. Krueger said that the re-established Sustainable BW group is a good way for students to get involved with sustainability on campus. If there are students who want to advocate for more solar panels or other initiatives, they can use campus groups like Sustainable BW to share those ideas.  

“BW takes sustainability seriously,” Helmer said. “We view it as an important part of our life.”