Indiana University

IUPUI's solar power installation harvests the sun

  • April 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is harvesting the sun’s energy with solar panels covering the flat roof of one its buildings. The $245,000 solar power installation is believed to be the largest of its kind in or near downtown Indianapolis.

The solar photovoltaic panels atop the Business/School of Public and Environmental Affairs building generate 43 kilowatts of electricity a day, an amount that would supply the daily electricity needs of over two dozen houses. The 164 solar panels, measuring 77 by 39 inches each.

"The project will provide research opportunities and extend other IUPUI initiatives to reduce energy use," said Dawn M. Rhodes, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

As an urban research university, sustainability receives attention in numerous areas, with the principles of sustainability reaching into every aspect of campus life, including operations, research, and teaching and learning, said Colleen McCormick, director of sustainability.

Other IUPUI sustainability initiatives include converting to single-stream recycling this year and an expanded use of water hydration stations to reduce the number of plastic water bottles entering the waste stream.

The solar power installation, led by Campus Facility Services and the University Architect’s Office, is one of 18 Qualified Energy Savings Projects underway in several buildings at IUPUI. The goal is to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint by implementing energy savings measures in lighting, air-conditioning, heating and water. Indiana University will issue bonds to pay the $11.5 million cost of the 18 projects, all of which are expected to be completed by February. Collectively, the projects are expected to pay for themselves in energy savings in 10 years.

"Implementation of this project is a great ‘first step’ for the campus in the generation of electricity from a renewable source,” said Emily Wren, associate vice chancellor of facilities. “This is a very large step at a time when we are talking about carbon emissions and what the impact of the campus is on the environment.”

The solar panels on the roof of the Business/SPEA building are raised in a static position about 22 degrees from horizontal to capture as much solar energy as possible without being part of an active solar tracking system that would follow the sun across the sky. The panels are expected to capture on average about four hours of solar energy per day.

“We’re delighted to see our campus moving so strongly in this direction. It is our hope that this is the first of many such projects that enhance student engagement and advance faculty research,” said Peter J. Schubert, director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy. Once complete, Web access to the installation will enable students and faculty to monitor the generation of electricity.

To view Earthmonth actvities at IUPUI, click here.

Solar panels atop IUPUI building

Solar panels atop IUPUI building

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Richard Schneider