School's Solar Wall Provides Valuable Renewable-resource Lessons

Nick Martin , Winnipeg Free Press
January 20, 2011

ONTARIO, CANADA: Even when we all wake up to minus-34 temperatures, the sun rules at Carpathia School. The River Heights elementary school is the latest to get heat from a solar wall, a black contraption on the south side of the gymnasium that's now providing half the gym's heating needs.

But the kids can explain it so much better. "That black thing on the edge of the building is the solar wall," Grade 5 student Tannis Hydesmith told a media briefing. "The heat rises and goes into the ducts." The solar power, explained Logan Currie in terms that non-scientific adults could understand, covers about half the gym's heating needs, with the rest coming from natural gas from the school's boiler. "It costs less and it doesn't create any carbon dioxide," Logan said. Said Tyler Cassidy: "It's more efficient than heating with anything else. It costs less." Thus, Tyler said, it uses renewable resources.

About 20 Winnipeg School Division buildings have had environmental upgrades, but there's more to this green chapter. There will be another project involving 20 schools in the division that will include solar walls, said George Andrich, technical analyst with NRG Management, which is the division's energy management co-ordinator. The solar wall at Carpathia is approximately three metres tall and 12 metres wide and costs about $20,000, which the school is expected to recover in five to 10 years through reduced heating bills, said Dave Peacock, project manager with MCW Custom Energy Solutions Ltd.

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