UNC Asheville Adds Solar Panels to Overlook Hall with Donation from Strata Solar

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UNC Asheville’s Overlook Hall will have a new addition this summer when 112 photovoltaic (PV) panels are installed on the rooftop to contribute to the campus’ electrical grid. This is the first significant PV array for the campus.
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The donation of the panels, valued at more than $27,000, comes from Strata Solar, the largest solar developer in the state of North Carolina.

“Strata is committed to investing in its communities and environment,” said CEO Markus Wilhelm. “We have been working with the UNC system on several projects now, and it is great to see how the solar panel donation to UNC Asheville will help activate its students and employees to get excited about solar and renewable energy.”

The 24 kilowatt grid-tied solar PV array will cover the lower roof surface at Overlook Hall and be visible from the top-floor lounge.

“We are very excited about the solar panels since it will be the first time that renewable energy on campus is happening in a very visible place,” said Aaron Rothemich, a senior biology major who serves as a co-director of the Student Environmental Center. “It’s an important step to larger-scale sustainability on campus, and we hope to provide an interface that will encourage academic integration. Classes can engage with solar on campus, and students can learn where the energy is going.”

Designs for the system are being developed by Sundance Power Systems, a Weaverville-based company, with the installation scheduled to begin in July.

“There was a plan from the beginning to have a renewable energy project at Overlook Hall, and it’s very exciting to see it come to fruition,” said Sonia Marcus, director of sustainability at UNC Asheville. “We hope to see it serve as a pilot project for building systems and performance across campus.”

Overlook Hall was completed in 2012 with the rooftop support system in place for a renewable-energy system. The PV array will supply electricity to the campus grid, for use by various buildings, including the 300-person residence hall that houses the system.  It will produce approximately 50,000 kilowatt-hours per year.