Solar wall coming to ETSU
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 20:09
With the help of a state grant, ETSU plans to build a solar wall on the roof of the Wayne G. Basler Center for Physical Activity.
ETSU received the $291,000 two-year grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to help with sustainability on campus.
In addition to the solar wall, ETSU plans to replace all of the 48-inch fluorescent tubes in the lights of the top two floors of the Sherrod Library with LED lights.
There are also plans to utilize new software in the residence halls to track the amount of energy being used in the halls.
The grant matches what students pay through the campus Green Fee, which was passed by the Student Government Association in 2008.
The fee is $5 per student per semester. The Department of Sustainability then hears from a student committee, which essentially decides how the money is used.
The solar wall will cover a 3,360-square-foot area on the roof of the CPA. The wall will heat the building by harnessing heat from sunlight through solar collectors. The heat will then travel through the heating units in the building.
The solar wall project is lead by Paul Sims from the Department of Engineering Technology.
Sims says the solar wall has been in the works for a while now.
“We applied for the grant almost a year ago and were working on what to submit at least several months before that,” Sims said. “The grant is competitively awarded.”
The wall is expected to save the university between a minimum of $11,556 and a maximum of $20,591 in heating costs per year.
“These walls have been put in at a number of facilities and the technology is well understood,” Sims said. “So the amount we save should be close to what is actually produced.”
Construction of the solar wall is expected to begin in the spring and should be completely operational by the next fall.
Department of Sustainability Director Kathleen Moore is in charge of the sustainability projects.
“The software is an online interactive tool,” she said. “Students or faculty will be able to look up their energy use.”
Moore and Sims both hope to encourage students to learn more about energy use by implementing competitions.
The software is an energy dashboard that will show energy use per building.
“We envision using this dashboard system to hold energy competitions in the residence halls as well as using the software and associated kiosks to inform and educate the campus community on the importance of personal actions to reduce resource use,” Moore said. “After all, the cheapest and cleanest energy is energy not used.”