Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College join SPC students Gentian Kruja and Morgan Fouss as they flip the switch on the solar energy panels installed at the Seminole Campus.

It was a beautiful day to showcase solar energy. On Thursday, April 10, officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College flipped the switch on the Seminole Campus’ array of solar photovoltaic panels, highlighting a collaboration that began with a $500,000 SunSense grant from the energy company.

“This partnership is a perfect fit,” said Seminole Provost Jim Olliver. “This project encourages students to get involved with solar energy and supports SPC’s commitment to sustainable design.”

SPC is the first and only state college to receive Duke Energy Florida’s SunSense Schools Post Secondary School Award. Previous recipients include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

The energy company provided $515,803 for two solar installations at SPC – a 50 kW ground-mounted, free-standing structure on the Seminole Campus and a 50 kW array atop walkways at the Clearwater Campus. The installations join two other solar energy projects on SPC’s Clearwater Campus. Find out more about SPC’s use of solar energy and how students are involved.

“Through the SunSense program, this solar project at St. Petersburg College is playing a key role in our efforts to educate our customers on renewable energy production,” Joseph Pietrzak, Senior Program Manager for Duke Energy Florida.

LCD monitors on each campus show how much energy is produced by the arrays, and engineering and environmental technology students use the information for research. Since it was installed in December, the Seminole array has produced 18,488 kWh, enough to power 3.4 million smartphones, offset the use of 1,633 gallons of gasoline and power 770 electric cars. Follow the energy production and installation here.

“It’s going to be a new world,” said James Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, created in 1975 by the Florida Legislature to serve as the state’s energy research institute. “This is no longer the most expensive way to make energy.”

Students from Lealman Intermediate School also attended the event and participated in educational solar activities. Students used handheld solar panels to power small motors and measure energy output.

“The young people here are going to be driving these vehicles powered by solar,” said Fenton, referring to the two alternative energy vehicles Duke brought to the event.

“My hope is that other students, current and future, will be inspired to learn more about solar energy and build a better future,” said SPC student Gentian Kruja, president of the Student Chapter of The Florida Engineering Society at SPC. After he graduates next month, Kruja plans to attend the University of Central Florida to study computer engineering.

“Through the data collected, students are not only learning about how different conditions of weather and seasons can affect the energy produced, but also how energy efficiencies are determined,” said Morgan Fouss, who will receive her A.S. degree in Environmental Science Technology from SPC next month and plans to attend law school. “We’re glad this investment was made on our campus and hope it’s just one more step in making SPC and specifically the Seminole Campus a model for sustainability practices.”

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St. Petersburg College has been selected Duke Energy Florida’s 2013 SunSense Schools Post Secondary School Award. The energy company will fund the college’s proposal for up to a 100 kW photovoltaic array project and its related educational outreach efforts.

SPC is the first state college in Florida to be selected for the award. Other postsecondary recipients in previous years include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

Duke Energy made the announcement on Monday, June 3.

Rather than one 100 kW array, the college decided to install two solar photovoltaic arrays in order to maximize exposure, said Diana Wright, Director of Facilities Services. At the Clearwater Campus, the grant will pay to erect a parking structure upon which a 43 kW array will be installed. At the Seminole Campus, a 57 kW array will be a ground-mounted, free-standing structure.

The new systems will serve as educational and research tools that will also help offset the energy costs of each campus.

“The Facilities department is excited to start construction on a project that will increase community awareness, contribute to the environment through sustainable practices and also increase student exposure to new technology right in our own backyard,” Wright said.

“Duke Energy has a balanced approach to meeting the energy needs of Florida’s consumers in a cost-effective, reliable manner,” Joseph Pietrzak, Senior Program Manager for Duke Energy Florida, said in the letter. “The balanced approach includes energy-efficiency, renewable energy technologies, and state-of-the-art power systems. Through the SunSense program, this 100 kW solar project at St. Petersburg College is playing a key role in our efforts to educate our customers on renewable energy production.”

Duke Energy will award the college up to $515,803 to cover project’s installations and other related educational outreach costs.

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Adam Putnam

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam will speak on diversifying Florida’s energy portfolio at the third and final installment of the Future of Energy series sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College.

The forum is 6:30-8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the Digitorium at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. It is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Covanta Energy, Clearwater Gas Systems and Nature’s Food Patch.

Putnam’s speech, “Increasing Diversity in Florida’s Energy Portfolio,” will discuss progress made in fulfilling a state energy policy goal of securing a stable, reliable and diverse energy supply for the state. He also is expected to discuss issues raised at the Florida Energy Summit, which is scheduled just a week before this forum, in Orlando.

As Commissioner of Agriculture, one of Putnam’s official duties is to foster innovation in energy development. His other responsibilities include providing an adequate and safe food and water supply, managing Florida’s forest resources, safeguarding consumers, and of course, promoting Florida agriculture.

One measure of progress on the energy policy front is legislation passed in the2012 session of the Florida Legislature. Putnam has called that legislation “a modest step forward toward a smart, long-term energy policy.” The bill, in which Putnam took a leadership role in securing passage, garnered bipartisan support from 156 members of the Legislature. Not only will it increase diversity in the state’s energy portfolio, it also will expand energy production and create much-needed jobs for Floridians, Putnam said.

Previous forums in the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions’ series explored the future of nuclear energy (Part I) and the role of renewables, conservation and energy efficiency (Part II). The series highlights policy in order to help the community understand what is at stake for its energy future.

The forum is free, but advance registration is requested at spcollege.edu/solutions.

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Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, will be the guest speaker for the third installment of the Future of Energy series at the Seminole Campus Digitorium at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Putnam will speak on Increasing Diversity in Florida’s Energy Portfolio, discussing progress made in fulfilling a state energy policy goal of securing a stable, reliable and diverse energy supply for the state.

His presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

The event is sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College.

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Juan Borbon, second from left, and the Rice University Solar Car Team placed second for its Solar Power Prototype at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas compeition in downtown Houston.

Year after year, SPC has helped place  students on the path to reaching their dreams. But the success stories don’t always start at the college level; they start as early as high school. The staff at SPC’s Collegiate High School has been equally effective in paving the pathway for students to recognize their dreams.

Collegiate High School graduate Juan Borbon was a dreamer, who is now watching his dreams come to fruition. A freshman majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Rice University in Houston, Borbon realized his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer was within reach when he joined SPC’s Innovative Engineering Club at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. Now on full scholarship at Rice, Borbon in his first year has had some exciting experiences. During his first semester, Borbon joined the Rice Solar Car Team in building an energy-efficient vehicle to use to compete against 130 other teams in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas. The road to the competition, which took place March 30 in downtown Houston, proved challenging. Novices to the world of building solar cars, Borbon and his team had plenty of work to do in a short time, beginning with raising the funds and acquiring the resources they would need before starting construction.

“By the end of the semester, we had $90,000 in sponsorship and $10,000 worth of donated software,” Borbon said. “We did run into one problem though … by the time we were fully funded, there were only three months left until the competition.”

The time constraint would only add more pressure to an already tense situation. Not only did the Rice Solar Car Team have to work quickly, but also efficiently if it wanted to place in the competition.

“To be honest, we didn’t expect to win because our design was too rushed,” Borbon said.

Therefore, instead of setting their sights on a win this year, the Rice team decided to use the event as an opportunity to announce the university’s presence in the solar car racing world and set up the platform to compete at a higher level in the future against industry leaders like Stanford, University of Michigan and MIT. The decision  proved to be a win-win situation for the team and the university, as the team’s Solar Power Prototype took second place in the solar category.

“I don’t know how or why we did so well, but I haven’t been this happy in a while,” he said. “With second place under our belt, our team has much more support. I am very confident that from now on it will be easier to acquire the funding to build the winning solar car for next year’s competition.”

Borbon attributes his success to the nurturing and motivation he received from the Collegiate High School staff. Before enrolling in the collegiate high school, Borbon said he really didn’t have a sense of direction and wasn’t even sure he would end up attending a university. But with the help and guidance of Collegiate High School staff, Yulonder Betts, Connie Boyle, and Principal Starla Metz, his life found direction.

“He is a remarkable young man, I’m immensely proud of Juan. In fact, he won an SPC award for our campus for his leadership in the engineering club when he was senior here,” Metz said. “That is what’s so wonderful about the collegiate high school, when students are on the college campus, they look around and all of a sudden the dream becomes a reality and they realize, ‘I am college bound. My dreams can come true, I can do this.’”

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Away: A Story of Trash” premieres May 11 at 7 p.m. in the Digitorium on the Seminole Campus.

A group of St. Petersburg College video production students have teamed with local PBS affiliate WEDU to produce and air the 30-minute television documentary, which will air in August.

The program, “Away: A Story of Trash” educates and entertains viewers about the history of waste management, the current practices and problems and what the average American’s perception of what “throwing away” garbage really means. The documentary shows how waste management has evolved from one man with a cart in Roman times, to the 243 million tons of waste that is collected every year and why we are soon going to have to find new ways to dispose of trash.

“I hope that the viewers will be educated enough to be influenced to take action and reduce the amount of waste that we create, so we can preserve the earth for future generations” said student Executive Producer Katie Bishop.

“It’s really amazing to see how much work actually goes into it the disposal of trash” she said, “The programs that waste management companies have in place, such as the Pinellas County waste to energy facility, really are the future of waste disposal.”

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     St Petersburg College architecture students Linaea Floden, Chris Galbraith, Greg Martinez and Jason Weldon have submitted a design for the 2010 U.S. Green Building Council Natural Talent Design Competition.

     The competition challenges entrants to design an affordable, LEED for Homes Platinum, 800-square-foot, environmentally friendly home for an elderly client in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans.

     The winning design will be selected by judges from New Orleans and nationally. The winning entry will be built under the supervision of the entry’s designer.

SPC’s ADA accessible design will cost under $100,000 to build. It features:

  • Structural insulated panel construction (SIP) and pre-fabricated trusses which reduce material requirements, construction waste and construction time.
  • Strategically placed windows and doors to allow for significant breezes through the home, reducing the impact on HVAC.
  • Recycled siding and decking wood from Mississippi River barges, purchased through the local restoration effort “Rebuilding Together, New Orleans.”
  • Drought resistant, native landscaping with little to no turf.
  • Large trees on the south side of the structure to maximize shading and natural cooling.

     The SPC design team found that New Orleans has a rich history and community, enabling its evolution.

     Respecting the tradition and history, without directly reproducing it, the design echoes the forms of the historical architecture of the area.

     “Rather than being abandoned after Hurricane Katrina, the strong historical and community ties actually take New Orleans to the next level,” said Linaea Floden, SPC architecture student and project leader.  “The local culture is so strong and iconic that it is unique within our country.”

     As a design team, they asked, “How does the home reflect this culture?”

     Their solution was to divide the home into three zones: one public, one private, and one transitional. For security purposes, the design provides living and dining spaces in the front, and bedrooms toward the back.  The kitchen serves to join the two.

     Large windows at the front of the house allow the interior to open up to the front porch and then to the street.  For added security, a large scale louver system protects the glass during storms.

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