University installing solar panels for energy savings

Katy Brown

Plans are in the works to add solar power panels to the Kent State field house as part of President Lester Lefton’s Sustainability Project.

“(The field house solar power project will produce) a sustainable amount of energy, about 5,000 kilowatt-hours … a year,” said Bob Misbrener, university architect project manager.

The new system would not only produce power for the field house, Misbrener said, but it would also supply some power to Dix Stadium.

Both facilities are hooked up to the same main electrical feed, Misbrener said, so “whoever needs (power), it flows that way.”

Kent State chose a company with Ohio roots to handle the project, Third Sun Solar, based in Athens.

“They’ve done … 300 or so school, university and college projects already, varying in size,” Misbrener said. “Ours is a pretty large size … approaching one half megawatt of capacity.”

The field house solar power project isn’t Kent State’s first step toward energy conservation. During the summer, new windows were installed in residence halls to help save energy, Misbrener said.

“(Installing the windows) was the first step, lowering energy,” Misbrener said, “and meeting that with clean energy is a good one-two punch.”

With both the windows and solar panels, Misbrener said he predicts $2.7 million in annual savings.

After the field house, Misbrener said Kent State plans to further the solar power to three more sites: the Michael Schwartz Center, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the Memorial Athletic Convocation Center.

Misbrener said those three additional projects wouldn’t be put into action until after the field house is completed and running.

“(We are) making sure that (the field house project) works smoothly and see how it goes,” Misbrener said, “then it will be 2012 and beyond that we do the other sites.”

Contact Katy Brown at [email protected].