Its southern orientation, easygoing slope, and ample surface area
make the roof of the University of Vermont's Miller Equine Center on Spear
Street a potentially ideal sunlight collector.
That fact was not lost on a committee of University of Vermont
students, faculty, staff and alumni charged with greenlighting proposals
received by the university's new Clean Energy Fund.
Thanks to the fund, the horse barn's red metal roof will house a
large array of solar panels producing up to 150 kilowatts of electricity,
one of nine renewable energy-related projects to be financed through the
The Clean Energy Fund assesses UVM undergraduate and graduate
students a $10 fee each semester to establish new clean energy projects on
and around the UVM campus, generating about $225,000 per year.
The idea for the program was launched by students in 2005 and
endorsed by the Student Government Association two years later, after a
randomized survey of 419 students showed that 68 percent would pay $10 per
semester for the development of clean energy for the UVM campus. The fund
was approved by the university's board of trustees in 2008.
The fund's 11-member committee called for the first round of
proposals in September 2009, receiving 18 applications from a mix of
students, faculty and staff. It deliberated for six months before making
its recommendations, which were then approved by UVM's vice president for
finance and administration, Richard Cate.
In all, the fund allocated $256,669 to support the program in its
first year: $174,669 for the nine approved projects; $32,000 for an annual
education and outreach fellowship to support student involvement in clean
energy projects, coordinate with classroom instruction, secure grant
funding, and disseminate information; and $25,000 for professional project
management for any construction the funded projects require. $25,000 was
also set aside as a contingency fund.
Engaging in the debate
The goal of the program, said the administrators and student leaders
behind it, is to engage students and the larger community in addressing the
formidable energy challenges facing society in the 21st century.
"The committee carefully chose a variety of activities to support,
from demonstration projects to research studies to courses, all designed to
draw students in and promote awareness of energy issues in different ways,
timeframes and depth," said Gioia Thompson, director of UVM's Office of
"Our hope is that the Clean Energy Fund will encourage students to
think broadly about sustainable energy, become involved in a hands-on way,
and learn about the issues so they can be informed participants in the
global energy debate after they graduate," said Eric Garza, a doctoral
student in Natural Resources, who chairs the Clean Energy Fund
To make the best use of student fees and to extend their impact,
members of the committee agreed to seek matching funds from organizations
like the state of Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund for some of the
"Matching funds for energy-related projects are available from a
range of organizations," said Thompson. "We felt an obligation to explore
those possibilities to leverage student fees as much as possible."
Because funds have been accumulating for two years, the Clean Energy
Fund has a surplus balance of $195,944. Projects that require matching
funds for which funds are not secured will be financed with the
Funded projects include the following:
A campus dashboard system. Four buildings
(University Heights North and South, Votey Building, and Given Building)
and five renewable energy installations on campus will be outfitted with
hardware and software enabling online display of the energy they use and
the renewable energy they generate. The displays, similar to the online dashboard at
the Davis Center, will be used in classes and research and will serve
as an outreach tool. Project cost: $44,000. Project timeline: To begin in
the fall of 2010.
Energy auditing course. A new undergraduate course,
"Energy Auditor and Renewable Energy Retrofit Training," will be developed
by Gund Institute fellow Gary Flomenhoft as part of the existing Community
Development and Applied Economics minor in Green Building and Community
Design. The new course will produce an annual cohort of trained students
capable of analyzing campus heating, transportation, and electrical use,
and of making renewable energy recommendations -- and submitting proposals
-- to the Clean Energy Fund. Project cost: $12,110 for course development.
Timeline: The course will be taught during the fall term, starting in the
fall of 2010.
Virtual carport course. The UVM Transportation
Research Center will link the solar array on the Equine Center roof with
the university's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) for a course
module, seminars, and class speaking engagements connecting sustainable
transportation and renewable energy. The PHEV would become the center of a
two-week course module on sustainable transportation systems, the linkages
between renewable energy and transportation, and the impacts of
transportation relating to energy use, emissions and driver behavior.
Project cost: $6,000 for development of the course module. Timeline: The
module is expected to be taught beginning in the spring of 2011.
Aiken Center solar trackers at Forest Service building on Spear
Street. Up to 15 solar trackers will be installed on a highly
visible portion of UVM land leased to the U.S. Forest Service on Spear
Street. The solar trackers will be credited as offsets in the environmental
renovation of the George D. Aiken Center, home of the Rubenstein School of
Environment and Natural Resources, that is about to begin, helping the
project secure LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
certification. Project cost: $4,500 (the solar trackers will be leased from
a vendor). Timeline: installation to begin summer 2010.
Solar Array on the Equine Center roof. A grid-tied
photovoltaic system will be installed on the roof of University of
Vermont's Ellen A. Hardacre Equine Center in the Miller Research Center on
Spear Street. The PV system will generate power for the horse barn's
electrical needs, including lights, computers, appliances, and other
necessary equipment during the academic year. From June through August, the
Equine Center is not in use and solar power generated from the system will
be sold back to grid. The solar array will also be used in faculty research
and in classroom teaching. Project cost: $125,618 - $62,809 from the fund
with an equal amount in matching funds. Timeline: Pending match funding;
construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2011.
Solar hot water unit at Slade Hall. Four to six solar
panels will be installed on a planned garden shed with a north/south facing
roof. The solar panels will feed into Slade Hall's boiler, providing the
majority of the resident hall's hot water. Project cost: $32,000 - $24,750
from the fund with $7,250 in matching funds. Timeline: pending construction
Solar Power and Smart Grid Research. This project
has two research components. The first involves smart grid experimentation
with an existing or new larger scale solar installation, such as the
Equine Center solar project. The second component involves experimenting
with three different axis orientations of four solar trackers that will be
installed on the roof of the Votey Building. The solar power and smart grid
research projects, in addition to standing on their own, will also be
integrated in existing energy-related courses offered at UVM. Project
cost: $27,000 - $13,500 from the fund with an equal amount in matching
funds. Timeline: Pending match funding; expected start in fall 2010.
Evaluation of biomass potential on the Trinity campus.
This project will assess the biomass energy potential at UVM's Trinity
campus. The feasibility study will be conducted by a third-party consulting
group, which will work with the Clean Energy Fund's education and outreach
fellow and UVM instructors to integrate biomass research activities related
to the study into existing UVM. The Clean Energy Fund will provide
resources for project leaders to apply for additional matching funds from
the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund. Project cost: $35,000 - $7,000
from the fund with $28,000 in matching funds. Timeline: pending match
funding; project is expected to begin in the fall of 2010.