News

SUU Takes Giant “Green” Step

October 26, 2008
Category: Community Outreach


In its continuing effort to make green space and resource conservation a top priority in the design and expansion of campus, Southern Utah University recently completed the installation of thirty-five solar panels with help from a “Blue Sky” grant through Rocky Mountain Power.

This is just one of many University initiatives to become a more environmentally-friendly and self-sustaining campus.

The newly implemented 6kW photovoltaic system on the facilities building west of campus produces power through 175-watt monocrystalline photovoltaic panels that feed to two, 4500 watt inverters for the university's net metering system.

The site is ideal for the project, as there is no shading from adjacent trees, allowing at least eight hours of sun every day.

As to this current project, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management David Tanner said, "These new solar panels will help defray rising costs by capturing the abundance of our solar generating days. The SUU Facilities team continues to seek ways to reduce energy consumption campus-wide while being sensitive environmentally and responsive to our educational mission. This grant provides a spring-board for more research and conservation opportunities.’’

Solar power conversion represents one of the most efficient and affordable energy alternatives available today. It reduces energy consumption and will not only yield monetary benefits, but will also significantly reduce harmful carbon emissions.

According to SUU Facilities Management, the average home uses 3,500 kW hours per year. The solar panel system installed on campus could power 4.6 average homes for the next 50 years or more.

According to University Vice President and Chief of Staff Gregory Stauffer, "Innovation in the use of renewable energy represents an area where SUU can and should lead out. By implementing cutting edge technologies, we can responsibly demonstrate the possibilities that exist for reduction in traditional energy consumption models, while at the same time reducing the long-term financial burden to the State."

Stauffer explains that along with renewable energy projects, SUU’s facilities management team continues to lead out with energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, and transportation alternatives exploration projects as well.

The fruition of a cutting-edge irrigation system along with the installation of low-flow utilities and several xeriscape conversions saved the University over 467,000 gallons of water last year.

In addition, this past year alone has seen the addition of 80 new trees to the University's outdoor design. And to help others implement better practices in drought-tolerant planting, SUU has established an online Campus Arboretum & Tree Tour at www.suu.edu/ad/facilities/grounds/treemap/default.aspx.

Other sustainability and energy saving efforts at SUU include:
• Refrigerant recovery and reclamation program
• Metals recycling
• Building scheduling to minimize utility operation
• The use of Ultra-low sulfur diesel only on campus
• The restoration of building operating systems to like-new efficiency
• Energy efficient retrofitting
• The development of more stringent campus lighting standards
• The installation of 38 waterless urinals
• The installation of smart panel lighting controls

As to the future, Stauffer claims, "In addition to this solar power application to the building, we're also planning on installing small wind generating units - a great opportunity to save energy and costs, but also to assess the value of such technologies for future applications, and to provide a learning environment for the campus & community relative to alternative energy sources."

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