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Let there be light--atop Fisher Hall

By Mindy Roll '07 M.Div.

Dean Harry Attridge takes a Throughout the fall, winter and spring, Yale Divinity School students living in Fisher Hall might have noticed an unusual amount of movement on their roof. The pounding of feet and the sounds of construction pointed to an exciting new YDS venture in collaboration with the University: the installation of solar energy panels.

Why Yale Divinity School, and why Fisher Hall? According to Yale University Energy Manager Tom Downing, Fisher Hall showed the best potential for solar energy of all the buildings in the Yale system.

"After surveying campus, we determined that Fisher Hall was the best site because of its year-round accessibility to the sun," Downing said."The building faces south, and there are not many trees or other obstructions."

Installing the panels was part of the University's commitment to the Climate Change Action Plan 2005, a State of Connecticut initiative modeled on the Kyoto Protocol that calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010 and an additional 10 percent below that by the year 2020.

Dean Harry Attridge said,"I welcome the opportunity to participate in the University's efforts to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our impact on the environment.  Those efforts make enormous sense in this period of rapidly rising energy costs.  More importantly, they signal the ways in which stewardship of the environment is essentially related to our work as theological educators."

According to Downing, the panels harness sunlight into DC current and transform it into usable electricity. Projections are that two-thirds of Fisher's electric requirements will be met by the solar panels.

Eileen Kopjanski, Facilities Manager at YDS, expressed gratitude for the University's attention to Fisher Hall, which was in serious need of a new roof."The roof was in bad condition. When the University chose Fisher Hall, they agreed to repairing the roof and installing the panels-at no cost to the Divinity School ."

"As the YDS community continues to explore what it means to be prophetic Christians, this new development is a wonderful way to demonstrate prophetic leadership in New Haven, and the Yale community," said Tamara Shantz, M.Div. '07 and chair of the newly formed YDS Environmental Concerns Committee ."As students preparing for leadership in a variety of communities, Yale University is showing us that alternative energy sources are a viable choice for institutions. This awareness will hopefully influence the decisions we help make in our various ministries. I hope to see many more initiatives of this nature around the Divinity School, as well as the larger University."

Yale University President Richard Levin expressed his commitment to the Climate Change plan in an email addressed to students, faculty, and staff in October 2005.

"Yale is committed to a level of investment in energy conservation and alternate energy sources that will lead, based on current projections, to a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions," Levin said. Yale is among a handful of universities in the United States that have committed to such a plan.