Southeast Arkansas College and Bernhard Illuminate a Sustainable Future at “Flip the Switch” Event


Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) and Bernhard joined forces in a groundbreaking “Flip the Switch” Event on Thursday, February 7th, 2024, unveiling a cutting-edge Solar Array and energy efficiency upgrades at SEARK’s Welcome Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The highlight of the event was the ceremonial activation of SEARK’s new solar array, a pivotal component of the institution’s forward-thinking energy plan. Attended by local community members, students, faculty, and media representatives, the event marked a milestone in SEARK’s ongoing efforts to create a more sustainable and resilient campus environment.

“We are genuinely excited to share this moment with SEARK, featuring a new solar array that marks a significant leap towards a greener and more efficient future,” said Corey Wilson, Bernhard’s Vice President of Performance. “Bernhard takes pride in the collaboration with SEARK to implement these comprehensive upgrades, including the integration of LED lighting and advanced building automation systems. This initiative signifies SEARK’s vision of fostering a sustainable environment for both students and the broader community.”

The transformative project, made possible in part by a bond issued in 2022, is a significant leap toward modernizing SEARK’s energy infrastructure. As part of SEARK’s commitment to sustainability and efficiency, the plan is expected to generate millions of dollars in energy savings, operation and maintenance savings, and capital savings over the next two decades.

Key components of the project include upgrading the Chilled Water System, replacing pumps at Founder’s Hall and McGeorge, and enhancing air handling units. These initiatives are projected to result in $2,940,816 in Energy Savings and $427,670 in Operation and Maintenance Savings over a 20-year term.

Further enhancements encompass upgrading heating water systems, improving indoor air quality, and implementing advanced security measures campus-wide. These measures are anticipated to result in $8,971,152 in avoided capital savings over a 20-year term.

“This innovative solar array and the comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades are integral to our commitment to sustainability and cost-effectiveness,” said SEARK President Dr. Steven Bloomberg. “It not only propels SEARK towards a greener future but also brings our outdated systems up to date for the foreseeable future. We are excited about the positive impact this will have on our energy consumption and overall campus sustainability.”