The Aztec Recreation Center is in the process of installing almost 1,200 solar panels on its rooftop, which will save the school more than $2 million throughout the next several decades.
This means a savings of $79,800 per year in energy costs, with a solar panel lifespan of at least 30 years. The total cost of the project is $1.2 million, but because of a California Solar Initiative rebate of $700,000, the school’s net cost is $500,000.
The installation is a 250-kilowatt system, which produces 475,000-kilowatt-hours. One kwh is equal to 10 old-fashioned 100-watt lightbulbs.
According to the Associated Students Green Love website, its mission statement is to “pave the way for a full-scale sustainable movement by and for San Diego State University and the surrounding communities.”
Glen Brandenburg, sustainability adviser for A.S., said one of the A.S. sustainability goals is to have all of its facilities become net-energy zero by 2020. This means buildings with zero energy can be independent from the energy supply grid.
All A.S. facilities are aiming to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Existing Building: Operations & Maintenance silver certification or better.
According to Eric Huth, the A.S. recreation director, the ARC is trying to achieve gold certification.
He said a misconception is the exercise machines inside the ARC use an abundance of electricity. Most machines are wireless and the only machines requiring electricity have video boards. The biggest energy consumption is maintaining the building in general, such as the cost of the cooling and heating systems.
The ARC has implemented more than two dozen energy efficiency projects, including replacing all inefficient overhead incandescent light fixtures in the building with efficient fluorescent light fixtures and re-commissioning the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
Financially, Brandenburg said students and members of the ARC will benefit from the installation because it will help membership fees remain relatively inexpensive. He also said there is a substantial sustainable benefit.
“It helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming,” he said.
According to Brandenburg, instead of having to burn natural gas to make electricity, they will use solar power. In addition, he said there is no planned inconvenience for students and members during the construction.
Sullivan Solar Power is installing the ARC’s rooftop solar panels and is expected to be finished by April. The company also installed solar panels at the Children’s Center and the SDSU Aztec Aquaplex.
Once the solar panels are completely installed, Huth said the ARC plans to display facts about the solar panels, such as how much energy the building is saving on its television screens.