October 9, 2006: Forum presents REI projects Thursday

Monday, 09 October 2006

Monday, 09 October 2006
by LILLIAN HOGAN
News Editor

Appalachian State University is emerging as a leader in progressive energy practices thanks to the Renewable Energy Initiative, a student led and funded program.

Now in its second year, the REI has gained access and approved funds for a variety of renewable energy installations on campus, including solar thermal hot water heating and biodiesel projects.

The REI referendum to build a renewable energy infrastructure was approved in March 2004.
Eighty-two percent of students approved the referendum and a $5 per semester fee increase in order to reduce Appalachian’s consumption of fossil fuels and negative environmental impacts, REI Committee Chair Mary E. Baker said.

The Board of Governors approved the referendum in March 2005, and the REI became official. The REI began collecting student fees in fall 2005. As of fall 2006, REI projects are in full swing.

Solar thermal hot water heating

The REI is currently working with Elm Engineering, Inc. of Charlotte to design a solar thermal hot water heating system to serve Plemmons Student Union, REI public relations representative Matt R. Parks said.

Water will run through solar thermal panels mounted on the student union’s roof and then be utilized throughout the building.

“The system will reduce energy consumption required to make hot water by up to 60 percent,” Parks said.

Baker said design approval for the project should occur at the end of October, with construction following shortly. The end of spring semester is the projected completion date.

The student union uses approximately 20,000 gallons of hot water per week, Dave L. Robertson, Director of the Student Union, said.

Robertson, who is supportive of the new system, agreed to donate space for a real-time kiosk that will show the amount of energy and money saved from renewable energy practices.

Biodiesel

The REI is also making biodiesel available to the Appalachian motor pool and AppalCART.

In conjunction with AppalCART, the REI approved the purchase and installation of a 10,000-gallon biodiesel tank, Parks said.

“Buses will run on a B20 blend, a mixture of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel fuel,” he said.

The transition to the B20 blend will occur within the next two months, Baker said.

Parks said biodiesel efforts are expected to reduce Appalachian’s emissions by 20 percent.

Also, a REI allocation of $17,500 will fund the purchase of a photovoltaic (PV) system for the Biodiesel
Cooperative Research Project at the State Farm Utilities Facility.

PV panels will provide a source of electricity for the project, allowing the group to meet its goal of a closed-loop system.

By the end of 2006, 100 percent of the electricity used will be produced on site, Parks said.

Get involved

REI representatives encourage the Appalachian community to participate in Thursday’s forum highlighting current REI projects and offering a question and answer session.

There are four positions open on the spring 2007 REI Committee.

Baker said the REI always needs more help in areas such as Web site design, public relations and research.

The committee has five faculty/staff representatives and seven student representatives. All majors are encouraged to apply for a position on the committee.

Applications are available at asurei.org. Completed applications can be mailed to REI ASU Box 8930, delivered to the Student Government Association’s office in the student union, or e-mailed to mb62503@appstate.edu.This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
The application deadline is Oct. 18.

The REI is also looking for help with grant writing for additional funding.