Federal grant assists Elon with solar project

Elon University will receive up to $200,000 in federal grant money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help with the installation of solar thermal systems that will heat water each day in a dining hall and a number of residence halls.

The Colonnades Dining Hall will receive a solar thermal system to heat building water.

The campus project is among 18 initiatives funded throughout North Carolina using a total of $2.3 million in grants. “These projects help build our state’s green energy economy, create jobs and demonstrate how public and private partnerships can work to help our communities,” said North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue in a news release announcing the grants.

The Colonnades Dining Hall will get a 30-panel solar thermal system, and additional residence halls are included in the funding. The solar heating systems will include solar panels, pumps, tanks, controls, wiring, piping and insulation.

A Web-based monitoring service providing access to energy production data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis will collect flow rates and temperatures, capturing actual performance of the systems.

“Between this and geothermal (projects under construction), we’re getting off to a great start in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Robert Buchholz, director of the physical plant at Elon.

Money for the grants is distributed by the North Carolina Energy Office, part of the state’s Department of Commerce, through the State Energy Program fund through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.