The World Is In Our Hands

I think it is important to be progressive in a world where many people stay stuck in old habits. New, better opportunities are available everyday and some may never take them simply because they are stuck in their ways; not only is that irresponsible but it is also selfish. When it comes to the health of earth I believe we should invest in our future for not only us but also the next generations.

America seems to be stuck in the Energy “Stone Age”. In a world where there is an array of renewable energy technology available to us, including but not limited to, solar, wind, ocean thermal, and hydro-electric power, America still relies heavily on outdated, traditional, energy sources - coal being the most common. Coal is also the most detrimental to the environment. Fortunately, individuals, schools and businesses have the opportunity to take part in becoming environmentally friendly and I am happy to say that Otis is one of those establishments. As a student at Otis College of Art and Design, I feel as though the student body is unaware of how environmentally conscious Otis is, especially compared to our art college peers.  This is a great opportunity to share the good standing of our school, regarding our carbon footprint. Aside from that, Otis is also on its way becoming even more environmentally friendly with the planned addition of renewable energy to our campus. There is an exciting future of sustainability on the horizon for Otis.

New Otis Campus

The Otis renovation is due to be completed by 2018. Our campus will be drastically different. It will have a residential area - for dorms, a new wood-shop, which has already been completed, a cafeteria, academic wing and outdoor commons.  As a design school Otis has an edge, but when I looked over the "Campus Improvement" page on I was surprised to see no mention of solar panels in the plans. My good friend Bryce Fisher and I both agreed that solar panels would be a great opportunity for Otis to become not only environmentally conscious and progressive, but also a beacon to the surrounding community. Bryce and I met with William (Bill) Schaeffer, Vice President of Administrative and Financial Service, after exchanging a few emails about the possibility of getting renewable energy on campus.  It was in this meeting that we learned not only about our schools past sustainability successes compared to other schools in CA, but the current status of solar energy becoming a part of the schools design.

Solar Thermal Technology

Otis is making significant strides in becoming environmentally sustainable and unfortunately the student body is vastly unaware of it. Bryce and I learned that although the information wasn't included in the “Campus Improvement” page, the new renovations actually do include a sustainable energy source, Solar Thermal Power. This system would be located on the roof the Residential Housing building. After speaking with Bill Schaeffer, Bryce and I also learned that Otis is actually a top school among our peers regarding sustainability.  In a study done in 2012, Otis has used the lowest amount of Fossil Fuels compared to our peers of similar sized art schools, yet we are paying the most for our energy – probably because were located in Los Angeles with its ever increasing cost of living. We found the results of this study to be awesome and eye opening, since we, like the rest of the student body, had no idea that our school was so sustainable. Not only are plans in place for Solar Thermal, but also that Bill Schaeffer has high aspirations for getting solar power on campus and has been meeting with, in contact with, and working with solar companies since September of 2014.

Map of solar power and solar thermal in new campus by Sofia

Bryce and I were very happy to hear about the push towards solar. After many deliberations with various solar companies, Bill Schaeffer concluded that solar would be most efficient and practical on the roof of the main Ahmanson building and on the top of the parking garage.

Potential Energy Savings at Otis by Sofia

The addition of these two solar panel systems is estimated to save 33% of the energy produced in the Ahmanson building alone, which is quite a substantial amount being that it is a 24 hour building housing 7 floors of computers and lights. Amazingly, it is also estimated that if we switch out all the lights to LED lights, in addition to solar, we will save about 50 % of the energy produced in Ahmanson. Otis is currently in the process of getting a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification. This is a certification determined by a point system that is based on the environmental impacts and human benefits of building-related impact. Otis is aiming to get a Silver LEED Certification, but is hoping for Gold.  This certification is crucial because the higher points/certification we achieve the higher rebate we can get on our electricity bill from the LADWP (LA Department of Water and Power). Currently Otis is also finding the right company to continue this project with. Plans/financials are estimated to be set by the end of the school year and this is when Bryce and I are hoping to contribute to the progress by applying for grants to help fund this big project.

 Save the Environment and Save Money

If you or anyone you know would like to get involved with helping fund this project for the betterment of Otis please contact either myself or Bryce Fisher at our Otis emails:, and Support is much appreciated. A big thank you to Bill Schaeffer for allowing us to get more involved with this issue and taking time from your busy schedule to meet with us.


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