Following a successful history of energy conservation initiatives, in early 2007 Santa Fe formed a workgroup to explore the possibilities of developing renewable energy projects on campus. The culmination of that effort resulted in the installation of four solar arrays on campus by early 2010. Two arrays are thermal and two are photovoltaic. The research of the workgroup took some interesting paths; one of which intersected with the college’s utility company’s development and adoption of a feed-in-tariff. That resulted in both photovoltaic arrays being tied directly into the utility’s grid.
In order to create a unique learning environment for our students, in 2012 a concept was developed to create a fully operational solar learning lab; appropriately named the REAL Lab for Renewable Energy Accessible Laboratory. The intent is to bring this technology from the roof tops to the table tops in order to give students real time exposure to both theory and application.
SFC is utilizing flat plate solar collectors to provide heating hot water to the showers and laundry in Building V – Gymnasium. The solar system utilizes a glycol based heating medium to protect against freezing conditions as well as an automatic drain down sequence.
The solar system is backed up by heating hot water loop associated with SFC’s boiler and heat pump plant. At the same time, if the solar system produces more energy than required at the gymnasium, it puts the extra energy back in the heating hot water loop saving even more energy. The solar thermal system has been operational since the summer of 2009 and continues to save on natural gas consumption.
Heat Pump or Heat Recovery Chillers produce chilled water and heating hot water simultaneously. Analysis indicated that SFC had simultaneous heating and cooling requirements. The installed heat pump was sized to ensure that it would have maximum operational time. The key to maximizing financial returns for this technology is to ensure it is sized to maximize the run time.
The Heat Pump has been operational at SFC since Summer of 2011 and has had a tremendous impact on reducing natural gas usage. The first month the Heat Pump was in operation, the natural gas consumption at the boiler plant was 77% lower than the previous July.
SFC is utilizing flat plate solar collectors to provide heating hot water for O building. The solar system utilizes a glycol based heating medium to protect against freezing conditions.
The solar hot water system is backed iwth a traditional water heater for when solar production is at a minimum.