OGDEN -- The sun is shining on Weber State University's latest energy-saving project.
WSU crews have spent the summer installing and activating solar panels on the roof of the Davis Campus building and atop the new residence hall at Wildcat Village. Additional solar panels are in place and soon will be activated on top of the Swenson Gym and the Shepherd Union Building.
"Weber State started four to five years ago looking really heavily into energy savings," said Jacob Cain, WSU Energy and Sustainability director. "The university has started dozens of energy projects across campus. Anything we can think of, we are looking into."
The solar panel projects are part of Weber State's "Climate Action Plan."
* Four racks with a total of 84 solar panels have been installed on the northeast corner of the WSU Davis building. The 20-kilowatt photovoltaic system will offset approximately 1.9 percent of the Davis building's electrical consumption.
"After one year of productivity, the solar panels are estimated to save $4,000, which equals about 32,954 kilowatt-hours of energy," said Jennifer Bodine, sustainability specialist in WSU's Energy and Sustainability Office.
An interactive kiosk in the lobby of the Davis building will track the constant production of energy.
"We really want to educate the community on what we're doing and why," Cain said. "The monitor is an educational tool, and since our mission is to educate our students and the community, it was a no-brainer."
* The hall in Wildcat Village features 15 solar-collecting plates that will be used to heat water in the building.
* A 38-kilowatt solar energy system will be on the Shepherd Union Building roof. The system is estimated to offset 5 percent of the building's electrical consumption, saving approximately $7,500 annually.
The building will have an outdoor, solar-powered water feature near the newly constructed pavilion on the union's south exterior. The fountain will be controlled by a hands-on solar panel, which will allow students and visitors to see how blocking sunlight affects the power output.
* And the next system, containing 48 solar thermal panels, will heat the Swenson Gym pool. It will produce about 1,000 dekatherms annually, providing $7,000 to $10,000 in savings each year.
Cain said multiple other energy-saving projects have been completed at WSU, including updating lights for reduced energy use. Increasing building insulation has decreased heating costs, and tinting windows has reduced the need for air conditioning during the summer.
Steam pipes used for heating parts of the campus have been upgraded, and an automated pool cover at Swenson Gym has reduced water-heating costs.
Energy upgrades are funded by a loan from the WSU endowment, Cain said. The funds are to be paid back, at a higher-than-commercial interest rate, as energy savings increase.
Cain admits that a 1.9 percent energy savings in Davis may not seem like a lot.
"But Weber State spends $4 million a year on energy, and this year we saved $530,000, and next year we will improve on that even more," he said.
Cain also explained that even if it takes 20 years to pay off the investment cost, the annual savings will continue for the life of the building, which is usually 40 to 50 years.
"In 2007, the university's president, Ann Millner, signed a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050," said Cain, speaking of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, an initiative approved by nearly 700 learning institutions. "It's our job to make sure that happens."