Eastern’s shift toward a greener campus is on a roll with a new plan for setting up solar panels on the roof of the Eagle Learning Center. ELC holds the offices of the Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies.
“We will be installing solar panels on the roof of ELC and we are hoping that that will be completely operational by the end of the year,” said Carl Altomare, the executive director of campus services.
The initial discussion for the plan started last spring and the project is to be in operation by the end of this semester.
“Our wind energy provider, Community Energy, brought the (idea) to us and it took us as a while to find a suitable site,” Altomare said.
According to Altomare, the plan took so long to come into effect because of the many necessary inspections they had to undergo. After a long period of looking into structural matters of the buildings on campus, Altomare and his team decided on ELC.
“ELC offered us an opportunity as a new building, and the engineering of the roof was advantageous as the roof membrane is fairly new,” Altomare said.
In addition, the team had to make sure the panels, once they were set on the roof would be protected from being blown away by the wind and that any reflections off of the panels would not bother the neighbors.
“Unfortunately, even though the whole ELC roof is basically going to be covered with panels, it won’t generate enough energy to provide for the whole building,” Altomare said. “It will just cover up to maybe eight to ten percent of the energy consumed in ELC.”
This means that ELC will still be majorly dependent on the wind-generated electricity from Community Energy.
Other than the obvious benefits, the switch to solar energy would also provide financial benefits. According to Altomare, electricity prices keep changing and it is definitely more expensive than solar energy.
In addition, the solar panels installation is costing Eastern absolutely nothing. Community Energy agreed to give Eastern the new roof for free, as long as the company can use the site as a working sample for clients who are interested in installing solar panels.
Altomare also expressed his excitement about several student government members who have been requesting green roofs on campus.
“SGA has requested that we consider some sort of green roof,” he said. “This does not actually fit the actual profile of a green roof but it is the closest we could get.”