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The Green Initiative Fund allots $176,000 for solar panels on top of Ackerman Union

By Ryan Miller

April 21, 2010 11:18 p.m.

The Green Initiative Fund recently allocated $176,000 to the Be Green Committee to construct solar panels on the rooftop of Ackerman Union.

The committee, which is a subcommittee within Bruin Democrats, aims to improve UCLA’s image as a leader in sustainability by significantly decreasing Ackerman’s use of coal energy sources.

The construction of the solar panels and interactive touch screen is the largest and most extensive project that The Green Initiative Fund has backed. TGIF, which distributes around $200,000 a year to fund student-led sustainability projects on UCLA’s campus, is a student fee referendum that was passed in 2008.

Students pay $4 annually, which in turn helps fund projects that have the potential to be beneficial for the campus environment.

The Be Green Committee hopes to begin installing the panels at the end of the summer, said Kennan Cronen, a third-year political science student and co-leader of the Be Green Committee.

“The change to solar energy could prove to be extremely cost-effective,” Cronen said.

The plan to install these solar panels will save about $1.5 million over the course of 25 years, he added.

The money accrued will cover the maintenance cost of the panels, as well as generate additional savings that will help ASUCLA lower student fees within the student union, such as textbook costs and food prices.

Furthermore, the panels will entirely fund the cost of the installation within five to six years.

In addition to a more sustainable energy source, the project includes an interactive, 32-inch touch screen HD monitor that will be accessible to every UCLA student in the A-Level of Ackerman Union.

“The touch screen will provide immediate information about the environmental contribution behind these panels,” said Ian Wells, a third-year history and political science student and co-leader of the Be Green Committee. “We will be able to show students just how positive of an impact the panels are to the environment.”

The project, which now has the necessary funding it needs, must still be approved by the ASUCLA Board of Directors before it is put into action. The board, which is comprised of a student majority, must first decide if this project makes sense as a student use of money. The decision is set to come on May 21, when the Board makes the final vote.

“Our role is to make sure the plan is framed such that it is compatible with Ackerman,” said Roy Champawat, the UCLA student union director.

“We ensure a valid quote is executable and provide the Board of Directors with the information they need to be able to make an informed decision.”

Looking at the next few years, Cronen stressed the importance of completely eradicating the use of coal as a source of energy. He said he hopes that with his committee’s creation and the funding they received by TGIF, other students will begin to take an initiative.

“TGIF is empowering students to make a difference,” Cronen said.

“We have an obligation, as students and as individuals, to make our institution a much more sustainable place.”

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Ryan Miller
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