Chilling and charging: TCNJ unveils outdoor tables that double as solar-powered charging stations

Tables, just outside student center, offer place to relax with dozens of charging possibilities — even at night

The six new tables outside the Brower Student Center on the campus of The College of New Jersey seemingly are a perfect fit for any college student — or anyone who is passionate about sustainability.

The tables, after all, are more than just meeting places. They also serve as charging stations and Wi-Fi hotspots.

TCNJ officials say each table generates and stores electricity that powers two traditional GFCI outlets, four USB-A power outlets and two USB-C power outlets and charger ports, as well as four Qi-enabled wireless charging locations on the tabletop surface — even after the sun goes down.

Ambient lighting is activated at dusk. At night, the canopies provide high-intensity, push-button LED lighting.

Want more? The tables are constructed from poly-recycled plastic materials. So, in addition to providing self-sustaining green energy through solar, each table keeps nearly 7,250 plastic water bottles out of the landfill — that’s more than 43,000 plastic water bottles in all six tables.

Kelly Hennessy, assistant vice president, student services, and part of the team that helped bring the table to campus, said the fit was perfect.

“We had the perfect space, just outside of the Brower Student Center, the heart of our campus, where students could relax, study and hang out together, while also being able to charge their devices using clean energy,” she said.

In other words, they have been more than worth the wait.

The proposal to bring such tables to campus dates back to 2019, when a request was submitted to the school’s Environmental Sustainability Council.

EnerFusion, the Michigan-based company hired for the project, was scheduled to do a site visit in March 2020 — or just as the pandemic reached the state. The project, restarted last summer, then dealt with supply-chain issues before finally getting completed.

The biggest issue now? How long until there are more on campus.

“Students are in love with the tables and have asked if they will be added to other spaces on campus,” Hennessy said. “Since the tables have been installed, we have yet to see them empty. They are filled with students at most points in the day.”

TCNJ President Kathryn Foster said the tables are another example of how the school is working to be more environmentally friendly.

“The college remains steadfast in its commitment to minimize our carbon footprint,” she said. “These new solar tables are another element in an extensive menu of sustainability projects at TCNJ, including solar panels across campus, installation of electric car charging stations and our native plant initiative.”

Foster is equally proud of the school’s academic efforts in the field.

“Eight TCNJ students were recently designated as Millennium Fellows to advance sustainability leadership — and our accounting and computer science students are collaborating on innovative projects to meet future college energy needs,” she said. “This is an exciting time for sustainability at TCNJ.”