College of the Rockies’ Residence Going Solar

College of the Rockies has an exciting new solar project at the main campus residence building. The endeavour allows the College to take advantage of a renewable energy source for heating the building while also providing an educational experience for interested students.

College of the Rockies Facilities Manager Allan Knibbs says, “This project allows us to do three things.  First, we are able to provide our students with opportunities to learn and see first-hand how solar energy works in the construction phase and to be able to see how the different solar technologies are performing via our real-time monitoring system.  Second, it demonstrates the College’s leadership and commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  And lastly, this project will result in a direct reduction in our natural gas costs.”

The residence project is unique as it is using two types of solar technology.  The use of the two technologies allows the system to pull in as much heat as possible but also provides added educational benefits for students as they are able to learn about both approaches to producing solar energy.

Jonathan White, a student in the Environmental Studies certificate program at the College, has been helping out with the installation with contractor Scott Graham of Renew Energy.  He has found the experience to be exceptionally valuable.

“I needed to take part in an environmental project for my program.  Helping with the solar project at the College was a fantastic and unique opportunity.  I was able to get excellent hands-on experience and thoroughly enjoyed taking part – and taking in the wonderful views from the rooftop,” he says.  “This project shows initiative by the College to work toward being a more sustainable operation. I hope they will be seen as a leader inspiring others to do their bit for the planet.”

The solar technology being used for the residence heats water which is then pumped into tanks that store the heat.  The water in those tanks is used to heat hot water in the residence building.  The fully-automated process allows Knibbs to track the efficiency of the system and monitor the savings in heating costs.

This is the second solar project at the College.  The Pinnacle Hall building, used for some of the College’s trades programs, has a solar wall along one side.  That solar air wall helps to draw heat into the building, improving indoor air quality and reducing its heating and operating costs.

Plans are underway for another of the main campus buildings, Summit Hall, to have solar photovoltaic (PV) installed this summer which will generate solar-powered electricity and share it with the grid. College electrical students will have full access to that project during their studies.

The College also offers a five-day Solar PV Design and Installation workshop.  For more information, phone (250) 489-2751 ext. 3440.

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