Purple goes green: Kansas State Polytechnic adds renewable energy to campus

By Kimberly Bird

A new wind turbine and solar panels have been installed at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. The additions will help the campus become more energy efficient.

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus cut the ribbon on a new wind turbine and solar panels on Nov. 8.

The energy-efficient additions to campus are outside of the Student Life Center. The building will see the benefit of the alternative energy production, while the campus now has the first pieces in place for its goal to become more energy efficient and increase its sustainable energy production.

“As I look at our campus and how to prepare it for the future while reflecting technology, adding renewable energy through solar and wind power seems a natural fit,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of Kansas State Polytechnic. “Faculty and staff can use the systems for education. Facilities can use the systems to monitor energy usage and integrate the findings into future energy projects. Students can witness the complex technology firsthand and use the systems to learn more about renewable energy systems, collect data, and analyze and draw conclusions. This idea fits perfectly with our programs and the polytechnic model of education.”

Integrating the wind and solar technology into the hands-on education model of the campus was a key selling point, Fitzsimmons said. The technology provides multiple opportunities for collaboration across campus, including biannual safety inspections of the turbine via drone — one area of national recognition Kansas State Polytechnic.

One of K-State Polytechnic’s drones captures the top of the wind turbine, which stands 112-feet-tall.

The addition of the wind turbine and solar panels is part of a larger energy savings program across campus. K-State Polytechnic is reducing its energy footprint by replacing all interior and exterior building lighting, sidewalk and parking lights with LED lightbulbs; updating envelope infiltration on exterior and overhead doors; replacing thermostats to more energy-efficient, Wi-Fi technology; and taking steps to reduce water intake and adjust heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

The solar and wind technology is projected to provide Kansas State Polytechnic both energy and cost savings each year. Projected electricity savings are 1,060,508 kilowatt hours, equal to approximately 1,210 100-watt lightbulbs burning continuously for one year. The reduced carbon dioxide omission is projected to save more than 18,000 trees each year. Overall annual cost savings are projected to be more than $146,000.

Installation of the wind turbine and solar panels was financed by a $2.85 million bond, to be repaid through the energy savings. For more information regarding the energy savings plan, contact Kansas State Polytechnic facilities at 785-826-2911.

Kansas State Polytechnic celebrated the installation of the solar panel arrays and wind turbine with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 8.