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Founded in in 1920, Hartnell College serves the higher education and workforce needs of the Salinas Valley. Its award-winning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs put area students on course to transfer to world-class universities. College leaders strive for their graduates to use their educational experiences at Hartnell to sow the seeds for their future contributions to the entire Salinas community.
In 2007, Hartnell College established the Center for Sustainable Design and Construction to educate its students in the design and building of homes, schools, parks, and commercial buildings of the future with sustainable practices and green materials.
Hartnell has been a model of bringing together resources from the private sector, government and the skilled construction trades to accomplish its educational mission. Expanding on its commitment of a sustainable campus, Hartnell College partnered with ENGIE Services U.S. (ENGIE) to design and install a total of 1.33 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity at the Alisal and Main campuses. College leaders were also interested in upgrading lighting and HVAC systems, in addition to installing a more economical energy management system (EMS) to make their facilities run as efficiently as possible, while achieving optimal cost savings.
Leaders at Hartnell College have integrated the solar energy project into existing education and career training programs. This program connects the large-scale solar and energy efficiency project with the curriculum. Construction of the solar canopies provided students with a real-world case study in sustainable design and construction. The solar photovoltaic (PV) systems also serve as a Living Laboratory for the College’s engineering program, where a partnership with UC Santa Cruz is helping integrate sustainable energy into science and math courses.
The educational partnership between Hartnell College and ENGIE is particularly unique, with a variety of activities engaging students in sustainability and clean tech. To attract students to the possibility of STEM careers, the ENGIE team has attended career days, led students in job shadowing and hired an engineering student intern from Hartnell. In addition, many Hartnell students participated in hands-on, experiential learning opportunities including organizing a physics/STEM exhibit for the Salinas community and leading STEM research projects, bringing the campus improvements to life and promoting energy consciousness among students.
To fund the program, the College took out a 0% California Energy Commission (CEC) loan, allowing for the installation of approximately $3 million worth of solar power. This project helps to ensure a healthy financial future to the College by saving more than $1 million in interest costs. Subsequently, ENGIE approached the Main Campus solar PV expansion financing with a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Hartnell will pay a fixed rate for the power produced by the parking-garage solar array over the long-term, allowing the College to save on both fluctuating energy costs and upfront project installation costs.
- Career Exploration
- Ground mounted solar array at Sierramont Middle School Hartnell students shadowed STEM experts, participated in ENGIE-facilitated career discussions, and gained guidance from ENGIE Professionals.
- Hands-On Learning
- Using solar panels donated by ENGIE, Hartnell students created a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) pocket house.
- Community Engagement
- With the support and guidance of ENGIE education experts, Hartnell students designed and managed a hands-on education exhibit for visiting Salinas students.
- Student-led STEM Research
- Students designed STEM research projects focusing on campus lighting upgrades and wind data. Students had the opportunity to present their research at the 2014 Hartnell STEM Symposium.
- Energy Engineering Internship
- ENGIE hired Hartnell engineering student, Frank Osorio, as part of the STEM internship program, providing a real-world experience working in an engineering environment.
Meet ENGIE Intern, Frank Osorio
“I was an engineering major at Hartnell College and participated in the STEM internship program. This past summer I had the opportunity to work with ENGIE as a full-time intern. I’m now studying for my bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University.
Hartnell prepared me through my STEM coursework, opportunities for leadership on campus, and by offering me a diverse and supportive learning community in which to grow.
As a result of my training and preparation at Hartnell, I had the confidence and skill set to dive into my ENGIE internship and get hands-on experience designing solar projects, working with customers, and learning how engineers problem-solve and address unforeseen challenges.”
3 Dimensions of Impact
ENGIE is committed to building three dimensions of impact in every customer’s future:
- Supporting People – The project provides opportunities for students to learn
about green technology through hands-on projects, internships and presentations.
- Saving Money – Over the life of the project, Hartnell will achieve $11.7 million in
savings through energy production, made possible by a combination of a 0 percent
CEC loan and a solar Power Purchase Agreement.
- Protecting the Environment – In addition to a remarkable 93 percent reduction in
yearly electrical energy use, the project also offsets 1,373 metric tons of CO2, the
equivalent to removing 294 cars from the road each year.
In addition to the $9.5 million in savings and the remarkable 93 percent reduction in yearly electrical energy use, the project also offsets 348 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent to removing 72 cars from the road each year. The project provides opportunities for students to learn about green technology and demonstrates Hartnell’s fiscal stewardship and environmental commitment.