This past fall, the semester students were involved in a very real and inspiring hands-on project. The idea was to take all of the student cabins energy-wise to net zero. This means only renewable sources of energy would be used to power their cabins. Their heat would be only from burning wood, and their electricity would come only from the sun.
To accomplish this, the students installed 1,700 watts of solar on one of their cabins, Gordy Hall. This will be enough to zero-out all their energy usage for a year. On the consumption side, the students swapped out all their lights for LEDs, which operate at 1/10th the energy of incandescent bulbs, and ½ the energy of CFLs. They also installed data loggers in all of their cabins, in order to monitor their consumption. The data loggers also were able to see real-time how much the solar panels were producing. The challenge for the students, then is to see if they can balance the amount of energy they use with the amount of energy that the solar panels are producing.
This upcoming semester will be the first to take up this challenge.
Written by Tom Twist, Chewonki’s Sustainability Officer