UW-Stevens Point energy conservation increasing with new solar panels, LED lighting

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is increasing its energy conservation measures with the installation of solar photovoltaic arrays on two academic buildings and upgrades to interior lighting systems in 15 buildings on campus.

The new solar panels on the roofs of the university’s Collins Classroom Center and College of Professional Studies reduce electricity consumption in each building by 21 percent, saving $12,639 annually. These buildings have new roofs and adequate room for the solar panels, which will be owned, operated and maintained by UW-Stevens Point Facility Services.

“All electricity production will be consumed in the buildings, reducing the amount of electricity to be purchased from the local utility,” said Mike Zsido, Facility Services coordinator.

UW-Stevens Point will save $140,280 annually in energy costs through this PV solar array project, along with the addition of new LED lights in the university’s 13 residence halls, the 601 Division St. (Surplus Property) building and three gymnasiums in Marshfield Clinic Champions Hall. The energy savings will be used to cover the cost of the $2.22 million project.

“These upgrades are another step on our institution’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Dave Barbier, Office of Sustainability coordinator at UW-Stevens Point. The benefits include energy conservation and reduced energy costs, he said. “Sustainability is not a destination, but a process. This is another big step along the way.”

As they reduce electricity use, the photovoltaic panels are different than the solar thermal panels on the roofs of the university residence halls, which pre-heat hot water for those buildings, Barbier said. “This offers our faculty a new onsite teaching example and comparison for our students.”

All of the solar panels and new lights will be installed and in use by this summer.