By Samuel Weisman, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY-This week the Common Council authorized the purchasing agent to seek proposals to install photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Crisafulli Hockey Rink on East Ninth Street.
This is just one of the many small steps the city is taking to reduce energy usage and cost.
An 18-foot tall wind turbine sits atop of Lee Hall. This vertical axis windmill can produce enough electricity to power some of the lights in the building.
The photovoltaic panels, which turn solar energy into electricity, would create more than 530,000 kilowatts of electricity annually and would cost $201 per month to power up the building.
Mary Vanouse, community development director, said, “As a city we are a large corporation and it’s so important that we reduce our energy usage and cut cost for the community.”
Some of the other initiatives the city has taken to help reduce energy consumption are conducting energy audits for the municipal buildings and installing a new lighting system in the DPW building.
There is also a small demonstration rain garden outside of City Hall, which is a green way of helping with storm water management.
Rain gardens take rain water from impermeable surfaces, such as roofs and roads, and instead of directing the runoff into the storm drainage system, the water irrigates gardens helping them flourish.
The rain garden in Oswego is home to a beautiful red flowering plant called Oswego Tea.
The Oswego Tea plant grows in the rain garden outside of City Hall.
There are directions on how to build a rain garden as part of the display outside of City Hall.
Vanouse said, “Our city is driven by water and this is just one of the ways that urban applications can help us.”
“When the sewer systems were built in Oswego the waste water and storm water systems were the same,” said John Moore, director of sustainability and diving coach at SUNY Oswego. “So when we have monsoon like rains the lines get backed up, instead of overflowing into homes the water would get bypassed into the lake. This is one of the problems of the old system and why you are seeing all the construction around. They are separating the lines.”
SUNY Oswego is also implementing green technologies on campus in its effort to become carbon neutral with the installation of a wind turbine atop Lee Hall and the construction of a new science building which will be heated by geothermal power and have photovoltaic panels on the roof.
The windmill is an 18-foot structure that produces 10 kilowatts per hour during peak performance and could produce 40,000 kilowatts annually.
This is enough to power some of the lights in the building.
Moore said, “It’s an experimental program with Impact Technologies. They were looking for places to install the beta-type turbine so we approached them. The advantage to us is that they will come as guest speakers in classes and share their experiences. It is the ground floor of new technology intended to be an iconic thing.”
There is no maintenance required for the small wind turbine.
Instead of having an evergreen cut down and donated every year for the Children's holiday celebration, the Port City had this one planted.
Moore said, “You would expect someone that someone would have to go up there and grease the bearings, but there are none. It works by opposing magnets so the moving parts, they never touch.”
Unlike large industrial windmills, such as those at the Tug Hill Wind Farm, the prototype windmill on campus is designed to be used on the roofs of small businesses and residences.
“Our goal is to become carbon neutral. But more than that our goal is to educate our students and community on what it really means to be green. What better place to try some of these experimental technologies than on campus,” Moore said.
The geothermal heating system requires drilling holes and tapping into the Earth’s energy will heat and cool the new science building.
The cost of this system is comparable to more conventional methods using fossil fuels, but it is much cleaner, requires no fuel, and is renewable.
As for the new science building, the official groundbreaking is Friday at 1:30 pm.
The building itself will be open for business in the fall of 2013.