The Gustavian Weekly

Solar panels generate campus sustainability | The Gustavian Weekly

By Tram Bui Staff Writer | March 26, 2012 | News

The Olin solar panels (foreground) and the Beck solar panels (background) use different methods to create energy.  The differences between the two units will be studied for educational purposes. Clark Kampfe.

The Olin solar panels (foreground) and the Beck solar panels (background) use different methods to create energy. The differences between the two units will be studied for educational purposes. Clark Kampfe.

With the many innovations Gustavus has brought in renovating campus, the push for environmental sustainability has been at the forefront of every decision. Most recently, the addition of solar panels to the roofs of Beck Academic Hall, Olin Hall, Lund Center and Jackson Campus Center has brought the awareness for sustainability to a greater level.

The solar electric power, installed this past February, is expected to provide energy to heat the water system in various parts of campus, such as the Market Place and the pool in Lund, both high water usage buildings. By May 2012, the pool itself should be fully heated by the panels.

“We’re hoping to show a positive image for the campus. It is a sign that we’re looking toward the future. Students do pay attention to environmentally friendly institutions,” Vice President for Institutional Advancement Tom Young said.

Young worked with Gustavus in the Institutional Advancement department to engage alumni, invite their philanthropy and steward these relationships. In working with the administrators of Beck and the 150 million dollar comprehensive program of Campaign Gustavus, an anonymous donation was received that allowed for the solar panels to be installed, a project that otherwise  would have been too far out of the initial budget to exist.

Two rows of panels are currently in place on Beck, with more planned. Clark Kampfe.

“It is hard to give thanks to someone unknown, but there is a deep appreciation for the donor,” Director of the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation and Professor of Environmental Studies James Dontje said.

The Johnson Center provides opportunities on campus to practice being environmentally conscious.

“As advocates of sustainability, we hope to practice that ourselves and represent something students should learn and carry with them,” Dontje said.

In addition to conserving energy on campus, the solar panels will help provide research opportunities for students. While the panels are on Beck, a power grid located on the roof of Olin serves as a place where students can observe different models of electricity.

“The energy will be sent to a power grid, and when it is coordinated, there will be no wasted energy,” Young said.

Students can also see where energy is dissipated around campus and what benefits the solar panels have, among other things. Student researchers, with permission of a professor or administrator, can receive access to the roof of Olin to observe installations or can get virtual access for projects in the teaching lab.

“Students are especially happy if they can go to an institution in which they can participate. There is a sense of pride and commitment. We hope this is the beginning of a long term process to be very efficient and sustainable,” Young said.

“Equally important are the people who make those decisions (to be environmentally conscious). It is how we want our students to come out of those institutions and to be working on that technology,” Dontje said.

“In striving toward a more green college and in sending 600 people into their [chosen] fields, our hope is that by being an institution where we practice our values, they will carry those values to where they end up,” Young said. “In building ecologically friendly, renovating with the future in mind and having Big Hill Farm and composting, we practice such things. It’s part of what you do and it becomes a normal part of daily dialogue. We do our part to change that conversation.”


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  1. […] Más información en el blog de la universidad sobre los paneles solares. […]

    • Rich says:

      This depends on your tudilate and where you are. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, it faces south, with a tilt direction at the sun with respect to the average tilt of the earth. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, the solar panels (both photovoltaic and solar thermal) face north. If you’re on the equator, then they may lie flat on your roof. In US at a tudilate of 40 degrees, you may want a tilt of about 20 degrees (because of change of seasons). You can alway angel the panels easier than modifying an existing roof. Be sure NOT to shade any part of photovoltaic panels at ant time.

      • Butch says:

        I don’t know about companies in India, but what you might do is look aunrod for someone who has a system, then ask where they got it. If you have trouble finding anyone with a system, maybe it’s not a very good deal.If the home is in a less-developed area, and all you would be powering is a light, and a radio or TV at night, then you might get by with the kind of system they use in some parts of Africa. It has a 40 or 80-watt panel, and basically a car battery. The appliances run right off the battery, and no charger or other devices are used. This sort of system costs $200-300 when implemented by a nonprofit organization I don’t know what the cost if you were to try to set it up, yourself.On the other hand, it sounds like you’re already connected to a power grid, and maybe already have a heavy appetite for energy in your house. A solar system with batteries tends to cost about $15 a watt in the USA, when hundreds or thousands of watts are involved. A system for a modest off-grid cabin will cost anywhere from $5000 to $30000, depending on the size.

  2. Lynx Electrical says:

    I like to see universities going green, it sets a good example to students, like another university in Australia Queensland University of Technology has over 1MW of solar panels, you should join so others can monitor how your solar is going, best times of day, voltage , usable power, peak etc.

  3. […] Solar panels generate campus sustainability Posted on Sep 18, 2008 in Pool Solar Panels | 0 comments Solar panels generate campus sustainability By Tram Bui Staff Writer | March 26, 2012 | News The Olin solar panels (foreground) and the Beck solar panels (background) use different methods to create energy. The differences between the two units will be studied for educational purposes. Read more on The Gustavian Weekly (blog) […]

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  20. says:

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