Becoming educated about solar and other forms of renewable energy is becoming more mainstream these days even reaching students in the South Bronx. Nathaniel Wight, a public high school teacher at the Bronx Design & Construction Academy (BDCA) located in the South Bronx, NY aims to heighten his students awareness of alternative energy. Mr. Wight and his students have been collaborating with Marc Perez, Christina Ho and Wade R. McGillis at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University to research the benefits of green roofs and solar photovoltaic canopies.
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. This 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 team was accepted to speak at WREF 2012 and the presentation will be led by two ninth grade students, some of the youngest ever to present at this conference. In fact, this will be the very first flight for one of these young presenters.
We look forward to seeing them present their talk, Green-Roof Integrated PV Canopies – An Empirical Study and Teaching Tool for Low Income Students in the South Bronx on Wednesday May 16th at 1:15pm in Mile High Ballroom 1C.
We suspect this is just the beginning of these what these young minds will accomplish. We can’t wait to see what else they contribute to this field in the future.