Student-led solar project powers grounds equipment at Hope

Hope College is now powering some landscape equipment and electric golf carts by the sun!
A small 2.4 kW photovoltaic system has been installed on top of the Keppel Carriage House thanks to students in the 2019-2020 Intro to Engineering Course.

This carriage house itself is a repurposed building that was moved in the 1990s to its current location between the Jack H. Miller Center for the Music Arts and the Physical Plant Office. The Keppel House was built in 1914 as a family residence. Both buildings were saved and relocated to allow for construction of Haworth Hotel and Cook Hall residence hall.
The latest sustainability effort for the old building is a multi-department solar energy project involving faculty, staff, and students from our Department of Engineering, Physical Plant, Office of Sustainability, and campus Green Team.
Students took the lead in researching and designing the system as well as sourcing the materials and researching the permitting process. This is an off-grid system, so the students also had to develop a storage plan for the energy that was created.
“The system was designed by Hope engineering students in the Introduction to Engineering course. Most of the students in this course are first-year students. Student teams developed a range of potential designs, and then Physical Plant staff selected the system they felt was a best fit to their needs,” said Dr. John Krupczak, professor of engineering at Hope.
“The project was a great real-world example for engineering students. The student teams needed to consider multiple factors such as cost, siting, and use schedules in developing their designs.”
The system was installed by the Hope College Physical Plant team and started to generate power this April. So far, more than 150 kWh of energy have been produced.

“This project has and will continue to offer more energy options for the Physical Plant as a whole as well as the grounds department,” said Bob Hunt, the college’s grounds manager. “The system will be used for charging campus-use carts, the Greenworks electric stand-on 48-inch mower, and handheld grounds equipment. We are in the process of converting all of the Hope carts to electric and are looking to expand the solar collection surface area in the future to expand charging and storage capabilities.”
This collaborative and cross-functional project has been fun to work on because it pulled together people from all over campus and allowed the students to help with a real-world project that will have a direct impact on the campus and the college’s sustainability goals.
While this may be a small project, we know we will continue to learn about how initiatives like electrification of our fleet and solar energy could play a part in our campus sustainability journey.
To know more about other Hope College sustainability projects or programs, please visit
-Michelle Seppala Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College.

Hope College’s century old Keppel Carriage House has a new 21st Century solar power collector to help power grounds department equipment.

STEM@Hope! Summer Science Camps kick-off

“Everyone loves to STEM@Home during the school year, but Summer 2021 can be your time to STEM@Hope with ExploreHope’s on-campus Summer Science Camps! The school year’s winding down, and that means your summer of STEM is about to begin. Hope Summer Science Camps begin on June 14 and run through July 30.

Whether you love dinosaurs or dissection, coding with Python and Raspberry Pi or Crime Science Investigation, ExploreHope Summer Science Camps is ready to make your summer STEM-tastic.

Not a science buff? Don’t fret – between Movie Making, Ukulele, and Art in 2D/3D, we’ve got a camp perfect for you.

ExploreHope is following Hope College protocols to keep campers and staff safe this summer while keeping our camps as fun and engaging as ever! Visit our Hope Summer Science Camp page to learn more about the camps we offer and to enroll. Sign up today!

Susan Ipri Brown and Michelle Gibbs receive new Great Lakes Fishery Trust award

Susan Ipri Brown, Director of ExploreHope and Assistant Professor of Engineering Instruction, and Michelle Gibbs, Director of the Office of Sustainability, received a $43,544 award from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust Great Lakes Stewardship Program. The project is titled Nurturing Stewardship Through Peer Mentoring.

Read the full annoucement on the “Sponsored Research and Programsblog post.

2021 Sustainability Research Projects

In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the “Triple Bottom Line”  and the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the 2021 Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

The Sustainability Institute would like to formally recognize the following projects that presented during the 2021 Virtual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) on Friday, April 30.  

PDF Document:  2010 Sustainability Research Projects

Framework Categories:








For more information about the Annual Celebration visit:

The students and their projects represented all of the college’s academic divisions — the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied science.

The research and performance celebration, first presented in 2001, is designed to spotlight the quality and importance of student-faculty collaborative research at Hope. Undergraduate research is a hallmark experience for many Hope students and has been a teaching model used at the college for more than seven decades. Mentored collaborative research happens year-round, with approximately 300 students conducting faculty-supervised independent research during the academic year and 200 doing research over the summer, making Hope’s summer research program among the largest in the nation at a liberal arts college. Since faculty are active in scholarship year-round, many more students engage in research during the academic year.

Research has a long and storied history at Hope College. More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast designed research laboratory space for the college’s Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903. The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.

Annual Earth Day and Arbor Day Tree Plantings

These are only open to our Hope College students, faculty, and staff. If you plan to join us, please make sure to follow campus social distancing practices.

April 2021 Wellness Program Challenges Help Celebrate Earth Month

At the start of 2021, a national survey revealed that nearly 84% of adults have reported experiencing at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress. Prolonged stress disrupts the balance of a healthy mind and body. This month, learn methods to help manage your stress and how something as simple as laughter can provide lasting benefits to your body, mind, and soul!

Click here for the full monthly Newsletter and use page 2 to challenge yourself to start stress-reducing practices today!

The Tree Hugger Challenge invites you to enjoy nature for 300 minutes over the next 30 days (this averages to 10 minutes a day).  Choose something that YOU enjoy doing each day such as enjoying lunch at the park, taking a hike, walking a trail or enjoying a sunset over lake MI! This is on the wellness portal ( – if you are not on the wellness portal please email Kathryn ( and she will send you a registration link! 


Throughout April (in place of a try it before you buy it)

April 22th is dedicated as earth day each April.  However, due to Covid we are opting to avoid a large group gathering to join forces to keep the environment clean on one specific day and instead shift the focus to April as Environmental Awareness month! This April we want to encourage (and challenge) everyone to get outside, enjoy nature, get exercise and aid to beautify the community/nature while doing it (this would count towards the above challenge minutes, too!). 

Starting on April 1st bags, gloves, and local park maps will be available in the lobby in front of Human Resources.  There will also be a sign up sheet for a drawing for an Ottawa County Parks pass for individuals who are participating in this endeavor.  The drawing will take place on May 1st. 

Kathryn J. Mock, MBA RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Client Services Manager

Living Sustainably: Drop the Phone, Grab the World

Now more than ever, we can’t seem to exist without technology.

Though humanity was already walking that precarious path, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us even closer to our devices — perhaps a little closer than we were ready.

Viewing our phones, tablets, and TVs as lifelines to the world brought into perspective how much life we could live through them.

Exploring our outdoor spaces is a great way to mark the National Day of Unplugging.

However, remember that technological advancement is double-edged. These machines that pump us with serotonin also dissociate us from a tangible existence, and that is why the National Day of Unplugging is something we should all honor.

The Day of Unplugging, begun in 2009, promotes a 24-hour break from technology.

A decade ago, there was little data correlating mental health to phone dependence, but the core founders of the day believed we needed a communal awareness of potential smart-device effects.

On the National Day of Unplugging, coming up March 5-6, communities are encouraged to bring tech and life into a sustainable balance.

This is also a time to slow the dizzying pace of life, something phones have also helped throw out of whack. The Day of Unplugging is an international movement with supporters in cities and towns all across the world, even here in Holland.

As this day approaches, West Michigan residents are encouraged to explore screen-free possibilities for adventure, education, and socialization.

There is certainly no shortage of natural spaces to discover with family and friends, such as Windmill Island, Window on the Waterfront, Riley Trails, Van Raalte Farm, Pigeon Creek, and others.

If the spring weather sticks around, a hike outside would be the perfect opportunity to view wildlife such as cardinals, eastern bluebirds, and cottontail rabbits.

The Outdoor Discovery Center and DeGraaf Nature Center, especially, are invaluable resources for kids to better understand the nature-rich ecosystem that surrounds them.

If you’re the volunteering type, a day at Eighth Day Farms will not only gift you a practical knowledge of agriculture, but also an ethical understanding of stewardship.

The Day of Unplugging would be a fantastic day to ditch the car and choose a bike or skateboard, or even your own two feet to mingle with your neighborhood.

Sturdily knit communities bring about the most sustainable change, so don’t feel nervous engaging with those around you about the best ways to recycle, conserve, and increase awareness of the state of our planet.

Use this time, not just as a respite from the TV, but also as a meditation of what your life should truly be. Reconnect with those you love and appreciate those you take for granted.

With a phone blocking our view, it’s easy to forget what makes life important.

But the sounds and sights of nature often bring these back to mind, so on this National Day of Unplugging, remember what is important and what should remain here for years to come.

— Zachary Dankert is an intern at the ODC Network, working with the program team. Zach is majoring in English and biology at Hope College.

About this series

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

Kiss the Ground

Be sure to register for our next film screening and panel discussion on Tuesday, February 23 as we reflect on the film “Kiss the Ground.” 

“Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on a “new, old approach” to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.”

This film screening has been sponsored FREE of charge for our community through filmmaker grant funds.

Please make sure you register by Tuesday morning.