View of part of the campus from the Millikan Library, with the solar roof of the Baxter Hall. Credit: Sabrina Sartori

Sustainability at Caltech

In the middle of a heat wave that hit my Italian summer holiday, I “escaped” to California to discuss how to tackle crucial energy and sustainability challenges with a group of enthusiastic lecturers and students.

The venue was Caltech, for the Eighth International School for Materials for Energy and Sustainability (ISMES VIII), where I was invited to talk about hydrogen storage and related technologies.

Not a real escape - it was hot there as well!

Sabrina Sartori, Caltech
I could not refrain from a scientific selfie in front of Caltech's logo! Credit: Sabrina Sartori

This was my second trip to Caltech and I almost forgot how green the campus is. Not only trees and flowers everywhere, but several visible actions to reduce Caltech's environmental impact. More than 6,000 solar panels are installed on rooftops of a few campus buildings, producing 1.3 megawatts of electricity for the Institute. For instance, the Holliston parking structure, which is covered by solar panels and also houses one third of the campus fuel cells, or the solar roof of the Baxter Hall which is well visible if, like I did, you reach the last floors of the Millikan Library.

Self-sufficient on power

The institute is committed to expand its use of renewable and low carbon power sources and the efforts start to pay off.

Aerial and street level view of the solar facility on the roof of the Holliston parking structure. Credit: Caltech

In fact, the last two years the campus became completely self-sufficient, and reached the goal of being a net-exporter of energy to the grid, generating more electricity on-campus than consumed: 1 % from solar photovoltaic installations, 21 % from fuel cells, 78 % from combined heat and power systems.

Walking around Caltech under the guidance of proud employees, the visit to these installations gave the ISMES's students the feeling that a sustainable future is not confined to academic discussions, but can be a reality with the right commitment.

Ready for a new start

For me the school was also an opportunity to meet old and new colleagues, establish new partnerships, and refresh the state-of-the-art and development of materials and technologies for sustainable energy storage and conversion. It made me even more excited with anticipation for the beginning of our new master program on Renewable Energy Systems at UiO.

I take this opportunity to welcome all our new master students at the Department of Technology Systems!

Read more of Sabrina Sartori's blog posts