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Sustainability efforts shine with new solar collectors

By District Energy posted 04-06-2021 11:12


Cornell Chronicle


For proof that the pandemic has not stopped campus sustainability efforts, look no further than the rooftop of Guterman Research Center.

The center on Caldwell Road – which houses research and teaching labs, growth chambers, controlled atmosphere storage rooms and greenhouse facilities – has installed 50 new solar collector panels. The system uses an innovative mirror technology, as opposed to conventional photovoltaic cells, to capture sunlight and turn it into thermal energy that will help heat the facility’s water distribution network and reduce its reliance on campus steam.

It’s one of several sustainability projects, from reusable dining serviceware to living laboratory experiments, that are continuing apace despite the many interruptions made by COVID-19 to campus life.

The intelligent mirror array is the first of its kind at Cornell and the seventh on-campus solar system, with construction of an eighth project set to commence on North Campus in June. The Guterman Research Center now joins the Nevin Welcome Center at Cornell Botanic Gardens and the Combined Heat and Power Plant as the only sites of solar thermal systems on the Ithaca campus.

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