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Enterprising Electricity: Putting Theory into Practice

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Electricity is so integral to our lives, but humanity’s ever-growing need for it is defacing the planet. There are many ideas on how to stop this, but to have an effect, those ideas need to take root in the real world.

By Matt Baker

Four years ago, the Illinois Institute of Technology transformed into an island. The 50+ buildings that make up the Bronzeville campus were put on a microgrid—a network of buildings, batteries and energy sources that can be detached, or “islanded,” from the power grid.

The benefits of a microgrid are numerous. They can function independently when necessary, such as during a power outage. Energy efficiency is another advantage; through the use of solar and wind generation, the IIT microgrid reduces the university’s power consumption by $1 million annually and carbon dioxide emissions are trimmed by 7%. On-site batteries store excess electricity while sensors in and around the campus buildings track energy use for optimal deployment.
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Building in Harmony

September 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Image courtesy of Harmony House.

It’s the greenest animal shelter in Chicago and possibly the nation. Harmony House for Cats, which officially opened its new location this past July, was designed to be a net-zero energy facility with sights set on LEED-NC Platinum. Attaining Platinum appears to be manifest at this point. “It’s only a question of how high our score is going to be,” said Ann Dieter, the Board President of Harmony House.
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Nation’s Largest Solar Plant Provides Ray of Hope for Alternative Power

September 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

It seems so simple. Coal and oil are dirty, finite resources while sunlight is clean and ubiquitous. So why haven’t we made the change? There are many reasons but the most looming is money. It still costs two to three times as much to produce one kilowatt hour of solar power compared to conventional means. The best way for alternative energy to achieve parity with fossil fuels is expanded production. Increase the scale and prices will decrease.
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