In 1979, Hampshire built an array of solar panels connecting four academic buildings. This area has since grown into the Charles R. and Polly Longsworth Arts Village, the artistic and creative hub of the campus.
Over the ensuing three decades the original thermal array deteriorated and was removed—the technology was experimental at the time—but the support structure that held it in place remains. Advocacy for solar power on campus never waned, and new plans for an array that would both support the College’s goals for sustainability and allow ongoing scientific investigation on campus has gained new momentum in this 40th anniversary year.
Congressman John W. Olver recently secured a $534,000 grant that would be used for a new 36 kW solar voltaic array. This funding would cover a large portion of the project, but $300,000 of financial support is still needed to bring it fully to fruition.
The solar canopy will provide electric power for the campus while serving as a visible symbol of the College’s commitment to sustainable energy development. Features such as monitoring equipment that presents data on prominent, interactive visual displays will allow easy accessibility for research and educational opportunities.
Hampshire students and faculty will be able to use the array for investigations of solar energy and renewable technologies, while it will also provide an opportunity to educate the general public on sustainability issues.
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