ELKINS - The Davis & Elkins College Center for Sustainability Studies and the student group GreenWorks! hosted an open house on Friday, April 10 to mark the activation of solar panels at Eshleman Science Center. The project, completely funded by D&E Student Assembly, is the largest solar installation on a residential college or university in West Virginia.
Members of GreenWorks! were inspired to initiate the project after attending the Mother Earth News conferences the past several years. The club raised the approximate $15,000 needed in coordination with Student Assembly. Using a formula with projected electric rates, the expected return on investment is 15 years.
"GreenWorks! has been working toward a solar array for nearly three years, and this installation is a tangible representation of our goals on campus,” says Davis & Elkins senior Zachary J. Schmucker, of Latrobe, Pa., who serves as GreenWorks! president. “It is very reassuring to know that we have the support of the campus behind this project. And of course, we (GreenWorks!) would like to do more in the coming years."
In addition to Schmucker, other GreenWorks! officers responsible for the guiding the project to completion are Nicole Wyatt, vice president, of Elkins; Gui Hubsch, treasurer, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Shauna Damon, secretary, of Mount Wolf, Pa.
The system is a 3.24 kWh grid-tied array on an aluminum awning, with micro-inverters on each of 12, 270-watt panels, allowing each panel to produce independently, regardless of the cloud coverage for other panels.
Students installed the panels in December under the guidance of Matt Sherald, owner of Power in My Backyard (PIMBY), located in Thomas, W.Va.
“What really struck us was the number of students who wanted to be involved in the installation process itself,” Schmucker says. “We worried that we might have to turn some away.”
The system utilizes a data logger to record electric production and communicates it to the Internet wirelessly. The data is graphed, converted to equivalent household savings and pounds of carbon offset by not burning the equivalent fossil fuels. The data can be found via a QR code or regular web link and can be used to demonstrate the feasibility and energy savings of solar power, as well as the environmental benefits of reduced air pollution, including greenhouse gases.
The project was inspected and recently approved for use by Mon Power.
This is the third project by GreenWorks! on the College campus in partnership with the D&E Center for Sustainability Studies and Sherald. The first project was an off-grid solar install at the campus pond gazebo in 2012 and the second was installation of high efficiency LED security lights on the Science Center in 2014.
GreenWorks! is the student sustainability organization of D&E’s Center for Sustainability Studies (CSS) under the direction of Russ McClain. The CSS promotes green initiatives both on campus and in the community by sponsoring events, supporting local recycling efforts and providing opportunities for students to become active in sustainability research and community partnerships.
For additional information, call McClain at 304-637-1806.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.