SSC grant helps fund ECE Building solar panels
Mark Pajor, ECE ILLINOIS
- The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) has committed $225,000 to help fund the solar panels on the ECE Building.
- The solar panels are key to the building's sustainability and net-zero energy use goals.
- The ECE Building's solar panels will provide students in energy classes with hands-on experience with solar energy technology.
The Student Sustainability Committee at Illinois (SSC) has provided a $225,000 grant for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Solar Power System Project. The grant is a significant contribution to the funding of the ECE Building’s photovoltaic array, a key element of the building’s goals to be sustainable and produce as much energy as it consumes.
“We’re really excited to be able to showcase a sustainable energy project at this kind of scale,” said Professor Philip T. Krein, the chairman of the ECE Building committee. “The Student Sustainability Committee grant will pay for a significant portion of the hardware.”
ECE ILLINOIS is still pursuing grant money and other donations to pay for solar panels both on the new building and on the nearby parking structure. To donate money for a solar panel, please see our Buy a Bit building wish list.
The ECE Building’s renewable energy plans and net-zero energy goal complement the aims of SSC. The committee “reviews, recommends, and funds projects that increase environmental stewardship, inspire change, and impact students,” according to its website.
“We have to work on newer energy technologies to make them more affordable and feasible,” said Marika Nell, who served as chairwoman of SSC when the grant was given for the project.
In order to inspire innovation and bring attention to clean energy technologies, projects that explore clean energy need visibility, she said. The ECE solar panels, which will be prominent on the roof of the ECE Building, will help motivate further development in clean energy technologies throughout the campus and community.
Some of that clean energy development may come from ECE students inspired by their proximity to the technology. Students taking classes in the Power Lab will have direct access to the photovoltaic array on the building’s roof. Instructors will use part of the array as an educational tool to demonstrate solar technology to students in a practical, hands-on manner.
“We always feel a great responsibility to students,” Nell said. “While our projects focus on energy conservation or new energy technologies, we try to ensure that it has an educational component or an outreach component as well, so that we’re helping to create a generation of leaders that will think about sustainability when they make their decisions.”
The Student Sustainability Committee was founded in 2002. Ten students serve on the committee, and they are advised by 11 faculty and staff members. The committee’s grants are funded by two student fees, the Sustainable Campus Environment fee and the Cleaner Energy Technologies fee. The students of the committee review and vote on the projects that they deem most beneficial to the university. In 2012, SSC also helped fund the design and engineering study for the ECE solar power system.
The ECE building committee currently targets the photovoltaic arrays’ completion for within a year of the building’s opening this fall, and is hoping to commission the system before the end of 2014.