A new installation of solar panels at the Herman W. Lay Physical Activities Center (PAC) at Furman University is expected to quadruple the solar energy output on campus.
The South Carolina Energy Office recently awarded Furman a $340,000 grant to install 304 photovoltaic solar panels at the PAC. The building houses the Furman Fitness Center, indoor pool, Health Sciences Department, Military Science (ROTC) and Human Resources offices.
Photovoltaics (PVs)—a fast growing energy technology—use solar cells to convert energy from the sun into electricity. The PAC installation will have a peak production output of 92 kilowatts and is expected to save the university $9,300 per year based on today's electric rates.
The PAC has been using a 30-year-old solar thermal system to preheat water for the pool and showers in the building.
Furman is integrating sustainability into all aspects of campus life and is trying to reduce its carbon footprint. Sustainability focuses on the dynamic relationships of social, economic and environmental systems with an eye toward preserving the resources of the current generation for future ones.
The new PAC solar panels are expected to demonstrate that solar technology is a viable energy source in both academic settings and commercial real estate.
The installation will take place this fall and will be the latest in a number of projects designed to cut energy costs at the university.
Furman currently has PV solar panels in use at Cliffs Cottage, home of the Shi Center for Sustainability. Also, last fall Furman received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a new environmentally friendly and energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system for the North Village student housing complex.
That grant was part of $338 million in Recovery Act funds meant to support 123 geothermal projects and research in 39 states.
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