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Solar pavilion exhibits sustainable energy commitment

September 22nd, 2008

Four arrays will offset the utility usage of a computer lab. (Read more about the system here.)

Messiah College’s educational and conservational commitment to sustainable energy isn’t new. For years, Messiah College has been a leader in developing sustainable energy solutions for on-campus educational purposes and for humanitarian efforts abroad.

Stewardship efforts at the College include everything from a robust recycling program, to an organic, community garden, to a student-led composting program, to active restoration of the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek on campus.

• In 2008, Messiah College received a $495,000 grant to develop biodiesel technology for small-scale production in central Pennsylvania. The College plans to equip a lab for research and testing the biodiesel production processes, processors, feedstocks, and other ingredients. Through this research, the project hopes to increase local production of biodiesel, lower production costs, and improve fuel quality and reliability.

• With funding from the Sustainable Energy Fund of Southcentral Pennsylvania, a solar electric training facility was built on the southeast corner of Frey Academic Building in Spring 2008. The structure will serve as an educational lab for Messiah College students, as well as more than 7,500 elementary school children who visit the on-campus Oakes Museum each year. In addition to serving as an educational center, the solar structure’s four photovoltaic arrays will generate three kilowatts of power, enough to offset the utility usage of a computer lab in Frey Hall.

• The Energy Group of the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research has a long history of promoting and using renewable and sustainable energy sources in various projects. The group has installed multiple solar-based electrical systems abroad, mostly for educational and medical institutions in rural Africa which would otherwise rely on costly diesel generators for electricity.

Facilities Management at the College has made improvements in academic buildings and residence halls to maximize efficiency. A sampling of initiatives includes installing and updating HVAC systems to use off-peak power to generate ice or warm large volumes of water; installing high efficiency, low emissions equipment such as air handling units that can run on either propane or electric; and controlling buildings with direct digital control which allows for load shedding during high demand peak times.

• Messiah’s engineering students have successfully developed and constructed solar-powered vehicles. In 1995, Messiah competed for the first-time with its solar car, Genesis, in Sunrayce, a national competition of solar-powered vehicles. For several years, Messiah made quite a showing at the Sunrayce and American Solar Challenge competitions, including a top-ten finish in 1999. In 2004 and 2005, Messiah’s engineering students built a solar-powered boat. A twin-hull catamaran style craft with a custom-built tracking solar array earned two top ten finishes in the Solar Splash competition in 2004 and 2005.

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