POCATELLO — Idaho State University (ISU) has obtained and installed four solar-powered tables around campus where students can eat lunch, work on assignments and socialize with peers. The tables were delivered and installed on May 17.

The tables were ordered from EnerFusion. They have electrical sockets, USB ports, USB-C ports and wireless chargers — all powered by the solar panels on the tables’ canopies. The tables have the ability to charge up to eight mobile devices at once.

“The tables provide welcoming spaces for the campus community to study and socialize while providing solar-powered charging for their personal electronic devices. I believe that our campus community will benefit greatly from this experience,” said Jennifer Parrot, Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability.

In addition to these tables, the campus has also installed charging stations for electric vehicles.

“We’re excited to have things like solar-powered picnic tables and electric vehicle charging stations starting to be introduced that can let students see some visible representation of some sustainable energy,” said Brian Sagendorf, Vice President for Campus Operations.

Sagendorf said this all started after ISU President Kevin Satterlee announced in 2022 that the university was eager to start implementing sustainability initiatives. ISU’s ultimate goal in sustainability is to become a carbon neutral campus.

The university is still at the beginning of this process, according to Sagendorf. He said that it will involve, “a lot of data gathering, looking at what our carbon footprint is as an institution, today and eventually; then set a goal of when do we want to achieve carbon neutrality down the road.”

While they’re still assessing what needs to be done in achieving sustainability, university staff decided it wasn’t too early to begin to introduce solar-powered technology to the campus.

Campus Operations and the Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability department, working together, found these tables that other universities have put on campus.

“The solar-powered picnic tables will provide the campus community with an opportunity to experience how sustainability practices can be incorporated into their daily lives,” Parrot said.

“We recognize that we’re so early on in this journey, that maybe it wasn’t realistic for us to cover an entire roof with solar panels and make an entire building energy sustainable,” Sagendorf said.

Sagendorf said that having charging stations and solar powered tables help students get used to having sustainable technology on campus, and shows students who have been waiting for this technology that the university is beginning to take steps.

“We were excited to have them rolled out,” Sagendorf said. “Even today, every time I’ve walked by they’ve had a lot of students there meeting in small groups, eating lunch and working.”

Two of these solar-powered tables are located just off the quad, outside the Pond Student Union Building. Another is located next to Cadet Field and the Rendezvous building and the fourth one is in the courtyard between the Beckley Nursing and Life Science building.

Sagendorf also said that students desire to see these technologies implemented is where much of the university’s desire to pursue this has come from.

“It is something that our generation of students are looking for when they’re choosing an institution to go to,” Sagendorf said. “We have to keep, on a much bigger scale, pursuing those kind of technologies for our housing facilities and the campus in general, because we know that the students are very interested in those things.”

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