Indiana University has seen the light (sunlight, that is) thanks to Coal Free IU, a campus group sponsored by Sierra Club’s Sierra Student Coalition and Campuses Beyond Coal. A coal plant operates on the IU campus, burning roughly 68,000 tons of coal and emitting 1,300 tons of sulfur dioxide annually. Upon learning of the coal plant, Nick McKay - Coal Free IU’s vice president and director of research - decided to point his school in a more sustainable direction.
McKay, a sophomore, and fellow Coal Free IU members Lauren Kastner and Hannah Hunt, applied for and received a $12,000 grant from the Indiana University Student Foundation. The money will help fund a two kilowatt solar system to be installed on the giant Indiana Memorial Union. McKay notes the system, which will be operational by mid-April, is expected to prevent approximately 85,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over its lifespan.
Currently, the campus buys the majority of its power from Duke Energy, which harvests its coal from southwest Indiana. The on-campus coal plant provides water and building heating.The alternative energy system is the first of its kind on the IU campus.
To read an interview with Nick McKay on this topic, click here.
(Photo: Nick McKay (Vice President and Director of Research for Coal Free IU), Hannah Hunt (Vice President and Media Coordinator for Coal Free IU), Emily Winters (Research Group member for Coal Free IU), and Lauren Kastner (President of Coal Free IU))