Students, Faculty, Alums and Local Elected Officials Joined in Earth Day Party
Randy Larsen (third from left), a chemistry professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, shows the college library's solar panels to Eric Daniels (left), chief technology officer for BP Solar on Earth Day. The college announced it would become the first school of higher education in Maryland to offset 100% of its electricity with 'green energy' credits. Also pictured is Maggie O'Brien, the college's president (2nd from left) and Rachel Clement (far right), co-president of the student's environmental action coalition. A student-led referendum overwhelmingly supported funding the purchase of energy credits from student fees. Photo by Robin Kendall.
ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. - St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) unveiled its 21st century vision for a sustainable place in the world at Earth Day festivities on Saturday, April 24 by announcing it would become the first school of higher education in Maryland to offset 100% of its electricity with "green energy" credits.
The announcement, timed to coincide with annual campus celebration of the environment, featured students, alumni and state and local political leaders who celebrated Earth Day with music, food and activities. Global climate change and how the campus could reduce its carbon footprint was the theme, and the students named the party, "The Sustainability Soiree."
SMCM President Maggie O'Brien and student leaders signed the Talloires Declaration, the EPA Green Power Partnership, and joined the Energy Star Program. Earlier this spring a student-led referendum overwhelmingly agreed to fund the purchase of renewable energy credits. Students voted to tax themselves $45,000 a year and give the funds towards lowering the college's carbon footprint.
Eric Daniels (SMCM, class of 1977), chief technology officer for BP Solar, spoke about renewable energy and how incentives are needed in the beginning to make technology competitive. Daniels reported that the growth of solar energy now makes it competitive with peak rates from other sources in parts of California. He said, "The marriage of technology advances with the right incentives, assuring a steady march toward grid parity."
Dick Myers, a special assistant to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, read a statement from the senator in support of the expansion of alternative energy and for creating a new ethic of conservation. Senator Mikulski supported the Climate Stewardship Act that would set mandatory emissions caps.
The event included student-led awareness-raising activities to spotlight the importance of alternative energy and sustainability activities. The Student Environmental Action Coalition unloaded a dumpster and sorted out the recyclable and compostable items. Members hung a clothes line of green skirts and shirts to demonstrate air drying laundry. The College's soccer team made ice cream without electricity by kicking around a REI-donated ice cream maker designed for camping trips. The most popular activity was a bike-powered smoothie machine.
Solar Tech Inc, from Hollywood, Maryland, demonstrated the use of photovoltaic and set up a display of solar panels that powered a fountain. The College's caterer, Bon Appétit, served hors d' oeuvres made from locally grown tomatoes, as well as strawberries, cheeses and sausages, some from the area's Amish. Trish Combs from The Funny Farm, a local organic farm in Callaway, Maryland, gave away fresh herbs and multi-colored carrots. Eating fresh and locally produced foods reduces the use of fossil fuels in transportation and reduces pollution from emissions.