Up on the Roof

June 9, 2014

Sustainable energy was a natural fit for the laboratory and research facility being built at Denison’s Biological Reserve in 1995. The original design for the Polly Anderson Field Station included innovative passive solar elements as well as plans for an array of solar panels on its south-facing roof. But solar technology was considerably more expensive in 1995 than it is today, so those roof panels had to be postponed.

Nearly 20 years later, economics came into alignment with ideals. Jack McNaughton ’75, whose electrical supply company (McNaughton-McKay) provided solar equipment for the recent energy project at Denison’s Homestead, quoted a price last summer for the Anderson Field Station that happened to neatly match an existing fund. Alumnus Bill Ichord ’76 had earmarked a gift to Denison for environmental and sustainable projects, and Campus Sustainability Coordinator Jeremy King ’97 put the two pieces together.

“The array will generate around $1,000 of energy savings annually: the gift that keeps on giving.”

The field station solar project was made considerably more affordable by doing the installation in-house, which was possible with the spirited expertise of contractor/carpenter/certified solar installer Richard Downs ’77. Downs was one of the original Homesteaders as a student at Denison, and he’s been living the ethos he experienced there in the 1970s throughout his life. In fact, Downs and King have combined their interest and experience to form the Granville Solar Cooperative, which makes itself available to consult with local citizens interested in solar panel installations.

King and Downs organized the project into four two-hour work sessions, and with the help of volunteers, the field station now has a 7.8 kilowatt array, which will offset more than half its energy usage each year. As King points out, “The array will generate around $1,000 of energy savings annually: the gift that keeps on giving.”

Among those who pitched in with Downs and King to get the job done were professors Doug Spieles, Kevin Harrison, Jordan Katz, and Anna Nekola; Granville resident Mathew McFarren; Facilities Services staff members Bob Jude, Troy Cottrell, Damon Bush and Keith Barnett; Carol Miller, library; Jeanne McNamara, accounting; and Jason Watts of McNaughton McKay.

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