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Solar Energy

Is Suffield’s Solar Array Producing?

When you care about the environment, you feel as if you are never doing enough to protect it. I am extremely proud of Suffield’s effort to weave environmental initiatives into our everyday life on campus. It is an important aspect of our Leadership Program to recognize our role in sustainable development at both a personal and community level. 
Charlie Cahn, Head of School

Sustainability is the fastest area of growth in all aspects of life and these concepts are crucial to securing a healthy future for our planet. Guided by these goals it is now up to all of us to implement these environmental initiatives.

Suffield Academy maintains a strong focus on using resources responsibly and growing awareness of our carbon footprint. This includes educational programs, campus construction, and various school awards and annual activities. Suffield proudly supports the 17 global goals for sustainable development in all areas of campus life. The United Nations established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 as an effort to “transform our world” by 2030. These 17 goals—and 169 associated targets at its core—aim to end poverty, fight inequality, and stop climate change.

Solar Energy Project
Suffield Academy has installed a 600-kilowatt solar power array that is projected to produce 790kW of energy per year. It is located on the western portion of campus with trenching that connects it to the Ap Seaverns Athletic Center. Solar energy will cover around a quarter of Suffield’s annual use and the system can be expanded over time. The school has a power purchase agreement with the system owners where Suffield buys electricity for 5 cents per kilowatt. This is locked in for 15 years with the option to extend twice for five additional years. The system maintenance costs are built into the rate and there are performance guarantees in the agreement related to the minimum of kilowatts delivered from the system. If these are not met the school would receive payment. The school can buy out of the contract at various points. The project was made possible by an upfront payment funded by a lead gift from the Willow Springs Foundation as well as proceeds from the 2019 Parents’ Association Auction.

A YETI for Everyone
Founded in 2006 and named after the legendary Abominable Snowman said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains, the YETI company was built on an appreciation for wild game, unfamiliar territory, and high-quality gear. Its brand has grown into a popularly proud symbol of adventure and sustainability for outdoor enthusiasts, campers, and weekend tailgaters. Suffield Academy has several initiatives aimed at increasing sustainability and decreasing unnecessary waste. In addition to working with Blue Earth Compost in the dining hall and recently completing an extensive solar energy project, the school supplies each individual member of its community with a YETI reusable tumbler. Wanting to eliminate the use of paper cups on campus and demonstrate responsible environmental practices, Suffield continues to move closer to reducing its footprint by going greener.

Zeno Dancanet is a sophomore from New York City who is providing his own inspired services in response to receiving his YETI. Working in the school’s technology classroom and with a full spectrum laser cutter, Zeno is adding personalized engraving to anyone wanting to add their own unique signature to their YETI. “I knew we had the machine and thought this would be a cool way of introducing it to the community,” he commented. “So, I created a spreadsheet and began taking orders. This process has taught me a lot about management and organization. Everybody loves their YETI and we are all in agreement that sustainability is an important aspect of leadership.”

Professional Development for Faculty
Suffield is proud of its talented faculty and committed to providing an array of vehicles for them to grow as educators and people. To enable faculty members to engage in nontraditional study in order to become more effective teachers and scholars, summer sabbatical funds are available. Sabbatical proposals do not have to be strictly about education or teacher training; these grants are meant as rewards for commitment and excellence, and intended to help teachers stay invigorated. Previous sabbaticals have included trips to Dakar (Senegal), the Rhine River, various locations in the US, Southern Spain, Greece (Mykonos, Santorini, Crete), Hawaii, Novia Scotia, and France.

Community Charities
There is no better example of Suffield’s commitment to global sustainability than the annually elected community charity. For nearly 15 years Suffield’s charitable initiatives have supported a wide range of global goals. From poverty, hunger, good health and well-being to clean water, sanitation, quality education, and gender equality, our school recognizes its worldwide citizenship. 

In the Classroom
Sustainability is impossible without quality education. Suffield’s core curriculum centers on providing a robust, diverse learning environment. From math and sciences to technology, arts, and languages, Suffield’s academics assert that knowledge is a vehicle for change.

On Campus
To sustain our community and support economic growth, the physical plant at our school maintains ongoing initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint and operating expenses. The utilization of affordable, clean energy is a major way we demonstrate responsible consumption while respecting a global climate and life below water and on land.
Suffield’s ongoing initiatives to support responsible consumption include:

  • Extensive solar energy project
  • Composting of dining waste and partnership with Blue Earth
  • Elimination of single-use items in dining
  • YETIs for everyone
  • Installed filtered water machines in several buildings to fill water bottles
  • Installed natural gas heating capabilities to four major buildings on campus
  • Updated efficiency for major boilers on campus
  • Re-lamped exterior and interior lighting to LED bulbs
  • Enhanced the recycling & waste program [single stream recycling collection]
  • Incorporated biodegradable trash bags & reusable coffee mugs campus-wide
  • Installed biodiesel in several maintenance vehicles & faculty residences
  • Switched to post-consumer recycled materials throughout campus

Leadership Awards
The Leadership Program at Suffield is of lasting significance and greatly enhances our role as global citizens. It prepares students and alumni to make a substantial difference beyond our campus. Core elements include an emphasis on understanding a moral foundation, goal-setting, communication skills, problem-solving, self-awareness, and inspiring others. It is in this way we fully embrace our partnerships with the 17 global goals for sustainable development. Only by working together can we secure a future for our planet. Suffield recognizes leadership in several ways:

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