County Partners Win Energy Conservation Challenge Grant

Bloomingfoods is dedicated to championing environmental and social causes in our community.  Pursuant to that, we entered recently into a partnership with the Monroe County Commissioners, the Bloomington Project School, the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC), the Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN), Bloomington Ink, the Indiana University Office of Sustainability, and the Bloomington chapter of Sierra Club in seeking a Community Conservation Challenge grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).  We are delighted to report that the proposal was accepted, and the county is the recipient of a $278,305 award.

The monies from this grant will be used in a variety of ways to generate energy and awareness of the need for both energy conservation and a heightened development of renewable energy technologies.  Most dramatically, perhaps, the county will install a 50 kwh solar photovoltaic system on the iconic sawtooth roof of the North Showers building.  As the proposal stated:

The roof’s unusual [sawtooth design], facing due south, makes it an ideal candidate to produce solar electricity. This fact, combined with the building’s inclusion on the National Historic Registry, makes the project an ideal model for the integration of historic preservation with sustainability goals.

Installation of the panels is tentatively scheduled to begin by February 1st and will be completed by the end of March. Preliminary estimates suggest these panels will reduce the building’s energy costs by approximately 10% while occupying only about 5% of the roof area. There’ll be plenty of room for additional panels to be installed later.

Along with the installation of solar panels on the Showers roof, project managers will set up energy dashboards that will monitor various aspects of energy usage in the University and Fairview Elementary schools, at the Bloomington Project School, and in the Showers building, itself.  County officials, students at the schools, and citizens visiting Showers will be able thereby to monitor how energy conservations practices and the application of technologies harnessing renewable energy sources can dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuel-based energy sources, with all the environmental and health-related problems to which they contribute.

Another major component of the project will be the "Leaders of Today vs. Leaders of Tomorrow Community Energy Challenge." Using baseline data accumulated this spring via the dashboards and onsite evaluations, the Challenge will kick off on Earth Day, April 22nd  2012 when government reps (Leaders of Today) and students (Leaders of Tomorrow) present information about what they have already learned about their buildings, what sustainable practices are already in place, what they want to learn, and announce their annual goals.  All participants will then report back on what they’ve learned and accomplished on Earth Day 2013, and a Challenge winner will be announced (based on terms still to be developed). We believe the Challenge will thus provide an entertaining and highly productive framework within which a broad spectrum of our community can learn about energy conservation methods and sustainable energy production technologies.

So please stay tuned as this project gets underway. We’ll be updating you frequently.

Cheers,
Steve


"This publication was prepared with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).  However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the DOE and OED."