Green is the new black, and The University of Montana’s School of Extended & Lifelong Learning just donned the latest green accessories: solar panels.
Installed earlier this month, UM’s James E. Todd Building, which houses the school, now has 10 operating solar panels that can produce up to 2,300 watts of power. The building joins the student-run Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology house in the fledgling ranks of UM’s “solar club,” becoming the first auxiliary building on campus to sport solar panels.
“I hope to double the number of panels this coming year and continue to add them until we run out of roof space,” said Joe Gough, SELL facility and conference manager.
Gough worked with UM students Frederick Brokaw, Kirt Dennis, Donovan Mistry and William Pederson to get the project funded through UM’s Kless Revolving Energy Loan Fund, which supports student-initiated energy conservation and renewable energy projects. The Environmental Studies Program and SELL also helped pay for the panels.
The students developed the proposal as a project for an environmental studies service-learning course taught by Professor Robin Saha.
“The students did a tremendous amount of legwork, got a lot of help on and off campus and put together an excellent proposal,” Saha said.
Gough said that in keeping with SELL’s mission statement, the solar panels will serve to “foster inquiry, learning and applied research” via an energy-monitoring system that tracks how much power the system produces throughout the day. The real-time data can be viewed online at http://egauge1188.egaug.es/.
“SELL’s solar project demonstrates that solar works in Missoula,” said Cherie Peacock, UM sustainability coordinator. “It also shows that people care and want to do something to reduce UM’s carbon footprint to meet our Climate Action Plan goals. Nationally, higher education is leading the way with the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and UM is toward the front of the pack.”
Gough and the students also worked with other UM faculty and staff to complete the project, including Kevin Krebsbach, associate director of Facility Services, and Roger Mclean, SELL dean. The team contracted with local solar panel companies Solar Plexus and Alter Enterprise to furnish the project.
NOTE TO MEDIA: An opportunity for media to photograph the panels and students, staff and faculty involved in the project is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, on the roof of the Todd Building. Contact Gough for more information.