Creative Discovery Museum is expanding its sustainability efforts with a new educational exhibit, Solar @ CDM, accompanied by a new 41.9 kilowatt(kW) solar panel system to its existing 10kW system. The project is the first of many sustainable living and alternative energy exhibits that will be created as a part of CDM’s renovation funded by the Ignite Discovery capital campaign.
Solar @ CDM is located in the iconic Museum Tower and will overlook the solar panel array. Children and families can explore how the electricity generated by the photovoltaic cells gets into the Museum along with the benefits of the alternative energy source. A real time dashboard will highlight the total amount of energy the system has generated to date, the daily solar production on an hourly basis, and the environmental benefits including the reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to conventional energy sources.
The system and new exhibit are the result of a national collaboration with the nonprofit Everybody Solar in partnership with All Points North Foundation, Engie, Change Happens Foundation and Tri-State Energy Solutions. CDM’s solar array is Everybody Solar’s largest installation to date.
“We are grateful for the support of Everybody Solar and its partners," said Henry Schulson, CDM's executive director. "This project is helping CDM achieve its goal of becoming a more environmentally friendly and sustainable organization. It also provides children and families with a better understanding of what they can do to protect our environment.
"The new solar panels, donated by Engie and installed by TriState Electric, are anticipated to generate over 52,289 kWh of electricity and offset a total of $6,120 in electricity costs in the first year of installation. The system will also serve as a centerpiece for the Museum’s education programs and exhibits on renewable energy."
“We’re honored to be a part of this exciting project and to have worked with so many great partners to make this project come to fruition," said Youness Scally, executive director of Everybody Solar. "Now more than ever it's crucial that we take steps to mitigate climate change and educate people about the power of solar energy so that we can ensure our planet continues to be livable for this and future generations.”
Over the 25-year lifetime of the system, CDM will save in the excess of $153,000 as a result of this expansion in the array. The projected savings from the solar array will support CDM’s ‘Museum for All’ initiative which provides significantly discounted admission for families that receive EBT assistance.
”At All Points North Foundation, we believe science centers are well-positioned to engage communities on the benefits and science of solar, while also having the opportunity to reduce electricity costs by installing solar and redirecting savings to what they do best,” Joe Ogrinc, interim director of solar grant partnerships.
Additionally, the savings translates into increased sustainability for the facility, and is a complement to the city of Chattanooga’s efforts to be a more environmentally friendly city. In December, CDM received the green|light certification from green|spaces. Green|light is a regional sustainability certification that highlights local businesses that choose to be environmental stewards when making business decisions. The certification process requires documentation of sustainable actions in various impact categories including environmental literacy, green cleaning, transportation, water reduction, energy efficiency, landscaping, staff participation and wellness, water and purchasing policies.
Current initiatives include a green roof to reduce storm water runoff and health island effect. The Museum is also planning additional infrastructure improvements that will promote water conservation.