OXFORD — The Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi had generated 57 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough power to run the center’s administrative offices and classrooms, or to brew 1,986 cups of coffee.
With the installation of more than 400 photovoltaic solar panels complete, the year-old building is the largest roof-mounted solar power complex in the state, said James Vaughan, CME director.
A renewable energy grant from the Mississippi Development Authority helped make the project possible. The $529,395 grant was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the CME matched it with $176,465 from university funds. Joule Energy, LLC of New Orleans installed multiple types of panels in December.
“The first 392 solar panels produce 245 watts each, and the remaining 39 produce 340 watts apiece, which generates roughly 108 kilowatts of electricity,” Vaughan said.
With its advanced construction, the CME is one of six buildings at Ole Miss certified as meeting standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, said Jim Morrison, UM director of strategic planning and campus sustainability.
“With half-a-dozen LEED buildings on campus today and three Green Globe buildings under way, we are thrilled to see how these technologically advanced buildings are strengthening our ability to optimize our operational efficiency and to advance our commitment towards a more sustainable campus,” Morrison said.
What’s more, having a solar-powered building is also an excellent teaching device for CME, which offers a “hands-on education in a traditional style,” Vaughan said.
CME faculty and staff have already started monitoring energy usage with an interactive kiosk, which updates stats hourly, daily or monthly. These statistics will be available on the center’s website soon, Vaughan said.