On sunny afternoons, the electric meter attached to the Austin Peay State University Hemlock Semiconductor Building won’t be breaking any speed records. That’s because, in addition to the solar panels on the building’s roof, a new solar parking canopy in the neighboring 9th Street parking lot will feed even more of the sun’s energy into the electrical system, keeping utility costs down.
“The canopy is basically a carport over four parking spaces, with solar panels on top,” Tom Hutchins, director of the APSU physical plant, said. “It’s tied into the Hemlock building, to supplement the panels on that building’s roof, and we’re getting some generation credit from TVA through the Clarksville Department of Electricity.”
The University’s Sustainable Fee Committee initiated the $65,099 project, using money collected from the APSU sustainable campus fee. The $10 fee, which students pay each semester, was developed in 2008 to fund green initiatives, such as recycling projects, energy and water conservation and the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
In recent years, APSU has pushed to be more energy efficient by adding solar panels at the APSU Environmental Education Center, installing occupancy sensors in many offices and classrooms and putting LED lighting in certain residence halls and classrooms. Earlier this year, Nissan donated two electric car-charging stations to the APSU Foundation. Hutchins said they plan to have those stations installed in the 9th Street parking lot, near the solar canopy, before students return to campus this August.
Thanks to all these efforts, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Green Certification Program has certified APSU as a green member of the local community.