Campus sustainability encompasses a broad range of actions and choices—some of which are subtle, while others are eye-catching. The renovation of the Schine Student Center has meant the addition of another attention-grabbing clean energy element: new solar panels on the building’s roof, the latest demonstration of the University’s commitment to sustainability.
The photovoltaic (PV) panels, installed this past summer, will begin generating clean energy for the campus community on Oct. 15. The new panels were installed in support of the renewable energy credit for LEED certification at the National Veterans Resource Center at the Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Building.
The project was designed by the Campus Planning, Design and Construction (CPDC) engineering team. After initial planning, the team from CPDC reviewed similar installations with staff members at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which resulted in changes to the final layout of the panels and the panel support system.
“Reviewing the installation with our peers at ESF was an important step in the design process,” says Jason Plumpton, assistant director of engineering and utilities at CPDC. “The tour informed our decision-making on the support system and allowed our maintenance staff to get a preview of the system components.”
The project consists of 139 panels on the roof of the Schine Center, which provide a total of 50 kw capacity. The system is expected to generate 66,000 kWh per year. To put that number into context, the average residential customer in the United States consumes approximately 11,000 kWh per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The solar power production at the Schine Center will be roughly equal to the energy consumed by six residential homes. The power generated by the panels will be fed into the building distribution system and will reduce the facility’s demand for electricity.
“Installing this system at the same time as the significant interior renovations made perfect sense,” says Matthew Fuller, senior project engineering at CPDC. “It will improve the 40-year-old building systems, and we should see a significant decrease in building energy usage.”
The project is also a visible reminder of the University’s commitment to sustainability, says Melissa Cadwell, sustainability coordinator, Energy Systems and Sustainability Management.