Ashland University completes $1.2 million library project
Ashland University has completed a $1.2 million library upgrade this summer that included the installation of solar panels on the lower level roof of the tallest building in Ashland County.
“This is the first time we have installed solar panels on this campus,” said Rick Ewing, vice president of facilities management. “Our primary motivation was not necessarily financial, but the potential and opportunity for us to move in the direction of reducing the impact we have on our environment. It’s a first step for us.”
Ewing said the $1.2 million library upgrade was a three-step process that included:
• Replacing the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment in the building, which included taking out all the electric baseboard heat and replacing it with a gas fired boiler feeding two heat pumps on each floor.
• Retrofitting the lighting in the building. Ewing said workers changed out the T8 fixtures, which will result in not only an energy savings but improvement in lighting levels and the lifespan of the bulbs.
• Installing a 10 kilowatt array of single photo panel cells on two sections of the low roof as well as the side of the library. The sections on the lower roof each contain 18 panels.
“The cost of the solar panel work was $95,000 and it has a 14-year payback,” Ewing said. “There also is the potential to get state tax grant money to offset a third of that cost.”
Ewing said the solar panels will be tied into the library’s electrical system and this will help offset the electricity that is pulled from the university’s grid.
“Eventually, we hope within three to four weeks, we will have a link on our website that will feature real time monitoring of the electrical output of the panels,” Ewing said. “The project is part of a performance contract where the vendor and installer will document and track the energy savings over the next 10 years and guarantee the savings will exceed the financed cost of the project.”
Ewing said he believes this is a creative way for Ashland University to finance these energy and deferred maintenance upgrades without directly impacting the University’s general fund.
Ewing is a member of the green sustainability group on campus titled “Ashland University Goes Green.” “This group is heavily involved in informing students and promoting green initiatives on campus,” he said.