The building was designed and retrofitted as Net Zero, with the location and roof pitch designed with solar panels in mind. However, cuts made in the build eliminated the panels from the initial construction. The Library’s design was recognized in 2020 by Efficiency Vermont with the Small Commercial Honor Award.
The panels can be installed easily as all the necessary wiring is in place so that panels can be easily connected through the roof to the utility housing in the building’s attic.
The 2022 Strategic Plan adopted by the Trustees includes a goal to reduce reliance on fossil fuel to heat and light the Library. This will both help save the planet and save on operating expenses. The Trustees’ goal aligns with the proposed revision to the Town Plan which calls for reduction of Town reliance on non-renewable energy as well as the State’s goals to reduce energy consumption and increase use of renewable energy sources, along with the goals put forth by President Biden for our nation and the world.
The planned array on the south-facing front roof can produce approximately 85% of the Library’s annual electricity usage for heating, lights and operating machinery. This equates to about $5,000 a year in savings, or roughly 5.5% return on investment. The existing heat pumps are the only heating and air conditioning system in the building.
The South Hero Library Foundation is building reserves to ensure that Library operations continue even in lean fundraising years. Given the projected investment strategy, an outlay of $65,000 to install solar panels will create a savings equivalent to a $170,000 endowed fund.
Clearly visible from US Route 2, the panels can play an important role in encouraging home and business owners to follow suit and add solar panels to their buildings – further reducing our state’s reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity.
Planned Library programming will highlight the benefits to individuals and society of converting to renewable energy sources for electricity. For instance, school-aged children will be encouraged to learn about solar energy and exercise math skills by tracking the power generated by the panels through a monitor mounted inside the Library. Programming for adults will be presented in partnership with the South Hero Land Trust, an environmental organization, to educate adults about the benefits of renewable energy such as solar to their pockets as well as the environment.
By installing solar panels on the roof, the Library will lead the way for other Vermont public libraries to embrace Vermont’s pledge to reduce total energy consumption and meet 90% of energy needs by 2050 and for our nation to reduce our carbon footprint.
Adding three Tesla power walls to augment the solar display will allow the Library to also function as an emergency shelter, with the power walls providing several days of electricity to provide heat, internet and power in case of wide-spread power outages in the community such as what happened in the 1998 ice storm. These panels, which add approximately $30,000 to the cost of the project, are part of the allocation request that will be presented by Bernie Sanders as part of the FY23 federal budget process. This Senate allocation will require us to match federal funding 1:1 with private support.
Click here to make a donation toward solar panels and a power wall for our Library.