Getting educated about solar and other forms of renewable energy is becoming more mainstream these days, reaching students in South Bronx.
Nathaniel Wight, a public high school teacher at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy (BDCA) located in South Bronx aims to heighten his students awareness of alternative energy.
Mr. Wight and his students have been collaborating with the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University to research the benefits of green roofs and solar photovoltaic canopies. The undertaking was realized with the help of City Gardens Club of NY and NY State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Located in an urban environment where space is at a premium, the team aims to find ways to optimize underutilized space and rooftops are no exception. Given their urban environment and the lack of studies focused on the synergy between green roofs and PV arrays this seemed the perfect project for the team. The study aims to evaluate data collected from four model houses, one housing a control roof, another with a green roof, a standard fixed photovoltaic system, and a GRIPV-c system. The study is ongoing and is looking at temperature, relative humidity, and solar insolation data to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the positive impact of a combined green roof and photovoltaic canopy system on the health of the green roof vegetation, the PV canopy system efficiencies, and the efficiency of roof mounted HVAC air handling units.
The purpose of the study is to show the mutual benefit green roofs and solar panels can provide. Initial findings indicate that the lowered temperature (from the green roof) increase PV performance. The team is currently running a model to determine what the actual gain in efficiency is. This research is taking place on the school’s Green Roof at Smith (GRaS).
The school was invited to speak at the World Renewable Energy Forum 2012 in Denver, CO, taking place May 13-17, and the presentation will be lead by two ninth grade students, some of the youngest ever to present at this conference.
Their talk, Green-Roof Integrated PV Canopies An Empirical Study and Teaching Tool for Low Income Students in the South Bronx, will be presented on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 1:15 p.m. in the Mile High Ballroom 1C, American Solar Energy Society, 4760 Walnut Street, Suite 106, Boulder, Colorado 80301.