Red Deer College now has 4,200 solar panels on residence building

RED DEER – The residential building of Red Deer College shows what the future for sustainable architecture could look like.

Red Deer College’s studio residence was built in early 2019 and has 145 rooms and large common areas where students can gather. The outside of the building is clad with solar glass cladding, also known as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). BIPV panels are part of the building or the building envelope.

“Standard solar modules are usually placed on top of a building while BIPVs are built into the building,” said Adam Yereniuk of Kuby Renewable Energy Ltd., the company that installed the modules.

“That could be windows, a glass ceiling or the exterior cladding.”

The residence has 545 panels installed mainly on the south side of the building as it receives most of the sunlight, followed by the east and west sides. The 545 panels generate approx. 160 KW.

“This building would provide electricity to about 20 or 30 houses,” said Yereniuk.

The new residence is part of the RDC initiative for alternative energies, which promotes the use of sustainable and energy-efficient technologies in order to reduce energy consumption. A total of 4,200 solar panels have been installed across the RDC campus – including the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Center and the Alternative Energy Lab – making it one of the largest post-secondary solar panels in Canada.

“We see it as part of our responsibility to practice what we preach, so to speak, and train not just students but the community at large on sustainability,” said Jason Mudry, director of campus management at RDC.

The 4,200 panels currently cover around 16 percent of the university’s electricity needs for one year. However, the RDC wants to become a net-zero institution in which the campus produces enough energy to power its own infrastructures.

“We are constantly working to reduce our emissions and we are constantly trying to lower our utilities,” said Mudry.

“If we can save money on our utilities, we can take that money and put it back into other things like programs, facilities, and student amenities.”

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