A bit of sunshine

Monday June 21 2010

 

Lynchburg College is now getting a bit of a boost from the sun with a solar array installed on the roof of Elliot & Rosel Schewel Hall, one of several changes being made this summer as part of LC's $4.65 million plan to reduce its energy consumption and associated costs.

The solar output can be checked in real time on the College's website.

Also this summer, Shackelford Hall is getting a $1.3 million renovation, while Montgomery Hall is getting a new roof. These residence halls upgrades are among more than $2.3 million in summer projects, which also include the renovation of the Daura Art Gallery and a new flat roof on the Dillard Fine Arts Center. These projects are in addition to LC's new energy savings initiative.

For that initiative, the College is changing lighting throughout campus, installing low-flow toilets, and replacing irrigation systems on athletic fields that take into account weather forecasts to prevent unnecessary watering.

The 18-month project should result in a reduction of $583,000 in annual energy costs, or about a third of the College's utility bills. Because the cost of utilities will increase, by year nine the College could be saving $903,000 per year.

In 2007, LC President Kenneth Garren signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which requires colleges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. LC hired Ameresco to do a campus-wide audit to determine how the College could best reduce its energy consumption.

Ameresco estimates that the project could reduce carbon dioxide output in the amount of 5,348 metric tons per year - equal to planting 1,215 acres of trees per year; saving 607,000 gallons of gasoline; or powering 741 homes annually.

The solar array, which lies flat on the roof of Schewel Hall, is visible from the third floor of the building. The electric output from the solar array will be constantly visible on a TV screen on the first floor of the building. This screen will also show how much electricity and water are being used in the College's residence halls to encourage students to practice conservation.

The energy is pumped into the building, reducing the amount of electricity required from the grid. The array generally powers about 125 fluorescent lamps. Though the savings is small, the array is designed to serve as a symbol of the College's commitment to reducing its carbon output.

For more information, contact Shannon Brennan at 434.544.8609.