ThinkProgress reported earlier this month about NFL teams that have embraced using renewable energy to power their stadiums, and now an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based environmental group is pushing for the University of Michigan to do the same at the Big House — the university’s stadium with a capacity of 109,901, making it the world’s third largest stadium.
The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, along with Ann Arbor 350, wants the university to commit to using solar energy at the Big House. Information about the petition on Change.org points out that University of Michigan students did a feasibility study in 2009 about installing solar panels on the stadium and found that the plan could divert 776 tons of carbon dioxide from the air, so the Ecology Center wants the university to take action beyond that study:
Activists hope the petition on Change.org will lead the University of Michigan…to become the first big-name college football school to join in.
“The UM stadium has the potential to be the largest athletic venue in North America with solar panels, which is fitting with the University’s claim to be ‘the leaders and the best’,” said Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center. “Even though the electricity generated won’t solve the climate crisis, it will go a long way in terms of solar energy education — just think of the awareness raised among the 100,000+ fans there on Game Day, and millions of others who tune in. The move would also give real support to Michigan’s growing solar energy industry.”
But so far, university officials insist it would not be cost effective. Terry Alexander, executive director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, told the Michigan Daily that the university would not be able to recoup its investment for about 70 years because there is not space for enough panels to collect a sufficient amount of energy. “Solar (energy) isn’t efficient in this part of the country,” he said. (The students’ feasibility report cited a 26-year window before the university began recouping its investment.)
So far, more than 3,000 people have signed the Change.org petition to push for the university to make the Big House a leader in clean energy among college football programs. To sign the petition, click here.