While talk about sustainability often comes in the form of discussions about steel straws and reusable tote bags, there are lots of larger scale initiatives looking to promote sustainability and fight the effects of climate change. One such initiative is the Arnold Arboretum's installation of 1,000-plus solar panels.
Video Courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
The Arnold Arboretum began operations in 1872 after Harvard alumni became trustees as part of James Arnold’s estate. The arboretum has since become a pioneer in research and ecology education, and is also home to 15,000 plants, with most species hailing from North America and Asia, according to the Arnold Arboretum's website.
Research and education also remain a top priority for the arboretum. Each species is categorized and logged in Arnold Arboretum’s database. The many field guide opportunities within the Arboretum were previously covered by Jamaica Plain News. Also, educational initiatives take place throughout the year, too.
The Arboretum's newest initiative
Together with the Carbon Free Boston plan to rid the city of fossil fuels by 2050, the Weld Hill Solar Project began as a way to meet Harvard University’s climate change initiatives. The plan is to have the solar panels eventually power the Weld Hill Research and Education building – a 45,000 square foot laboratory and teaching facility. When completed, the panels are expected to produce around 542,061 kilowatt hours a year, according to The Harvard Gazette.
This is the third solar panel installation in the Arboretum as well as its biggest sustainability initiative to date, according to The Harvard Gazette. Aside from providing an alternative source of power, Harvard suggests that this energy system will also employ technology that allows it to kick in when Weld Hill’s battery grid is under stress, thereby reducing how much electricity is being used.
Aside from working in tandem with Harvard and the city of Boston’s sustainability plans, this newest solar installation is in line with the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target initiative (otherwise known as the SMART initiative) which seeks to increase the presence of solar power within the state’s energy portfolio. SMART was launched in 2016 with the goal of adding 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity to the state’s existing 2,200 megawatts.
The future of sustainability tech
Ever since sustainability became such a buzzword, companies have jumped on the bandwagon and some have even used it to push PR campaigns to reach new markets. Fortunately, there are the likes of the Arboretum that help businesses make a positive difference that can actually be felt. And this is now reverberating across the world, helping to break new ground in the process.
To this end, it’s worth noting that Harvard isn’t alone in its large scale efforts. While individual efforts are important, corporations must be the ones to lead the change on a much bigger scale. Automotive News reports that Ford has already met its carbon emissions target last year, eight years ahead of schedule. The company has been known to follow the regulations set by the Paris climate agreement, looking to incorporate sustainable practices everywhere from its manufacturing to its waste management processes.
Sportswear company Adidas is also a leader in sustainable business practices. Climate Action says its Adidas’s constant sustainable innovation that puts it way ahead of its peers. The brand’s collaboration with Parley launched shoes that are made from plastic found on shorelines; Adidas is also looking to roll out its ZeroDye fabric into all of its shoes and apparel.
Of course, they are just some of the brands joining the fight for the environment. With these huge strides towards sustainability, it’s good to know that environmental conservation and climate change are now being seen as corporate responsibilities.