Energy Conservation Project
In an effort to reduce our operating cost, be better stewards of our planet, set an example to our community, and expand our nature education to include our relationship with the sun, we are looking to match a $20,100 donation for solar panels so that we can reduce our energy consumption. Other energy conservation initiatives include updating our aging HVAC with a more energy efficient heating and air conditioning system, insulation, LED lighting, fans, and a solar energy educational display. Your donations will help pay for these energy saving changes so that our resources may be used for educational programs.
Your generous support will make the Louisville Nature Center a showcase for nature education and inspire others in ways to become better stewards of our planet Earth.
Let the Sun Shine! by Martha Keating
Energy conservation projects continue to be a top priority for the Louisville Nature Center. Visitors to the Center see the largest and most visible of these projects on the roof. Previously, the roof was covered only by asphalt shingles. It was determined being out in the open and facing south made it an ideal spot for solar panels. Our goals for a solar installation project were to reduce operating costs, be better stewards of our planet by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for electricity, be an example to our community, and expand our nature education to include our relationship with the sun.
Thanks to a generous anonymous donor and donations from the community, our fundraising campaign for this major project was successful and on November 15, 2016, forty-two, 320-watt photovoltaic solar panels were installed. With this system we can use the electricity that we are generating for our own facility, send any extra electricity to the power company for distribution to other customers, while receiving electricity from the power company when we are using more electricity than the panels are generating (for example on a really hot or rainy day). A Smart Meter tracks how much electricity our panels send to the power company and how much electricity the power company sends to us. Each unit of electricity we send to the power company reduces the usage we are charged by the same amount (a billing arrangement known as 1:1 net metering).
Before the installation we were buying about 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Now we are generating an average of 1,381 kilowatt-hours per month depending on the weather, which is reducing our monthly expense for electricity considerably. Since the installation, our system has reduced emissions of CO2 (a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change) by about 31 tons. This is about the same amount of CO2 emitted by using 2,858 gallons of gasoline in cars.
Our goal is “net zero” electricity use, which means that we will only use as much electricity as we can generate with our system. To get there we are now focused on reducing how much electricity we need and use. A major step towards this goal was replacing two old HVAC systems with one new Energy Star system that is appropriately sized for our facility. Our next focus will be to improve insulation and install energy efficient lighting in our parking lot.
Thank you for your donation. You are helping to pay for these energy saving changes so that our resources may be used for educational programs. A donation of $777 (the cost to install this solar system divided by the number of panels) or more qualifies you as a Solar Star and your name will be added to these generous supporters.
Mary Rose Evans
Greater Louisville Sierra Club