DU Senior, Spearheads $1.7 mil Solar Project on Campus

The massive size of the Gates Field House, is ideal for a large scale solar project.

The massive size of the Gates Field House, is ideal for a large scale solar project.

Climate Change is more evident than ever before, and is increasingly becoming worse. Because of this, sustainability efforts need to be increased and practice by more of our population, in order to continue to have the resources we so heavily use today.


Fourth year student, Kyle Sundman, is spearheading a project that can economically and environmentally rebrand DU. As a part of a $1.7million project to lower DU’s carbon footprint.,Sundman plans to install solar panels on top of the Gates Field House. “Up until 2014 there had been no sustainability classes in the Business School.-I had a professor in a previous quarter, who informed me she was teaching a class catered towards sustainability,” says Sundman.

The Project

With 300 days of sunshine in Colorado, there are few better locations to harness solar energy. Sundman, being a Colorado Native, had already realized this. Gates Field House, was selected due to its large size and flat roof; making it optimal for solar panel placement. Sundman projects that the project will generate 700,000 kilowatt hours annually.

Although this will not offset the total energy used by the Ritchie Center, Sundman claims, “It should offset almost 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide over its 25 year lifetime, equivalent to 45 million miles not driven or 250 acres of trees planted.”


Threefold Plan

The $1.7million project is composed of three plans

1.Spread awareness that this is the fundamentally right thing to do

2.Convince the Board of Trustees that this is a safe and reliable investment

3.Rebrand the campus as boasting a strong image of sustainability.

Our earth’s resources are being depleted, and energy production is releasing too many green house gasses into our atmosphere. Something needs to be done in order to make people aware of this, who aren’t already. Installing these solar panels, and showing that they are not obtrusive to the eye, or even showing people that they work is a step in the right direction.

Having the board of trustees support to fund this project is crucial. Its is an expensive task, but has a high return of investment. The high ROI, is appealing to the Board of Trustees when ideas are pitched to them.

There have been many roadblocks for Sundman, the most prevalent being the lack of funding. He needed to get hard detailed numbers for a project specific to DU in order to demonstrate the financial feasibility to the powers–that-be at DU. Then, once the project was approved, he would be able to get funding…in order to pay the consultants for the numbers to give to the board to get the project approved…it was a cyclical, seemingly never ending cycle.

Until just this past week, when his grant proposal was approved and DU Solar was allocated $9000. The cycle has been broken!

Rebranding the image of DU, is one goal everyone student should have. You are going to be an alumni at some point, and knowing your alma mater is pioneering the way in sustainability at Universities is a statistic you will be happy with.


Rebranding the Image of DU

In Sundman’s eyes this project is a catalyst to rebrand the image of DU as a pioneer in the world of sustainability. “It is fundamentally the right thing to do because, its now becoming very obvious that climate change in upon us, and its now proven by science.”

“Every week, we’re seeing new and undeniable climate events, evidence that accelerated climate change is here now. We know that droughts are intensifying, our oceans are warming and acidifying, with methane plumes rising up from beneath the ocean floor. New research shows that by 2050 clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using existing technologies, and it would create millions of jobs.,” says Leonardo DiCaprio at UN Climate Summit.

 Being a leader in the sustainability movement on college campus’s can also be a huge attraction to prospective students. DU is highly regarded as a University, and has much pros such as location, athletics and academics. Being able to boast or advertise that DU is a sustainable university, pioneering the sustainable movement, is a great selling point for the University.

A sustainably built home, near the DU campus, uses solar panels to power their house.

A sustainably built home, near the DU campus, uses solar panels to power their house.


The Students of DU

Placing the solar panels on top of the Gates Field House, will allow students from the right spot to see the panels. Walking to class everyday, students will began to see these and realize the efforts DU is taking to improve sustainability.

“The only time I’ve ever noticed DU incorporating sustainable practices, is when they have the water bottle filling stations on the water fountains,” says Michael Wynkoop, DU Senior. Wynkoop, is one of many who were questioned about DU’s sustainable efforts.

“For what DU advertises themselves as, and the amount of money in their endowment, they should 100% make more of an effort to be a sustainable university,” Says Tyler Westrum, DU Junior.




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