Just in time for Lawrence’s Earth Week celebrations, the Lawrence campus will be receiving an eco-friendly upgrade. A total of 14 solar panels were installed on the rooftops of Youngchild Hall April 22 as another step towards offsetting the campus’ carbon footprint, in keeping with the ongoing Green Roots Initiative at Lawrence. The idea did not come from the administration, but rather from two students, Will Meadows and Austin Federa. The two met through Greenfire and quickly found a common ground in their passion for environmentalism. For both, Lawrence was a campus that was lagging behind in clean energy initiatives but taking steps in the right direction. “We have this LEED certified building, Green Roots Initiative and organic garden, but nothing in terms of clean energy production,” said Federa. He and Meadows wasted no time pursuing their goals, and within a week had made connections with Associate Professor of Geology Jeff Clark and decided on a project: solar panels. “My role was mainly that of a facilitator,” said Clark. “I pointed them [Will and Austin] to resources both on and off campus… I provided some initial guidance, but they did most of the leg work.” The team sought out support from all over campus – from LUCC to Greenfire and facility services. According to Meadows, “Once we got started people really gave us a lot of support.” Roughly two-thirds of the cost of the panels was paid for by grants from outside the university. The panels will provide about 2.8 kilowatts of electricity – enough to power the entire environmental studies department. The team acknowledges that this is a small success, but stresses that it is also an important first step. The new panels will reduce Lawrence’s carbon dioxide emissions by about three tons of carbon per year, and will have a lifespan of about 30 years. Most importantly, “the project showed that we as students can take initiative and make things change on campus,” said Meadows. The two students hope that their project will encourage others to stand up for a greener campus and send a signal to administrators that clean energy is an important issue for the university. One of Federa’s goals is for Lawrence to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge to exercise leadership in society by educating and modeling green practices. In the long term, both Meadows and Federa have bigger goals in mind, including potentially upgrading the university’s boiler system to reduce energy loss from heating. Their ultimate goal? “A carbonnegative campus,” says Meadows, explaining that the wooded acreage of Bjorklunden absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By continuing to look towards renewable energy sources such as solar power, it is possible for Lawrence to offset its carbon footprint. While this goal seems a long way off, with a few more people like Meadows and Federa, Lawrence could rapidly become a role model for universities nationwide.