With all the recent emphasis on solar power at the University of Arizona, the residents of Posada San Pedro Residence Hall are already light years ahead.
Formed at the beginning of the school year, the Posada San Pedro Solar Powered student group has been working towards getting solar panels installed on the roof of their dorm.
Although they have not achieved their goal yet, they are getting closer.
The group recently had 20 solar panels donated to their effort thanks to research on solar power efficiency done by Alex Cronin, a UA professor who works with Tucson Electric Power, said Katherine Weingartner, president of the group.
Cronin received 500 panels to work with on various projects, 400 of them are going to Biosphere II.
"Getting the panels wasn't the problem," Weingartner said.
Now that they have the panels, she said all they have to do is get the attachment and conversion parts while working with the UA administration to get them installed.
"The panels are the most expensive part by far," she said.
The next step for the group is going to be working with the administration. Weingartner said that the challenge they have come up against is a university power cap.
The UA has a 500-kilowatt cap on how much solar energy they can produce and the new solar installations that the university has planned for campus buildings have already reached that cap.
Weingartner said the group is going to start working with the administration next fall, she said she doesn't think they will have very much trouble getting their project going.
Weingartner said there are two options: the university either needs to increase the cap or find another area to use to reduce the cap.
"We're working with the administration to see how we can still be a player in the game," said Kevin Pounds, treasurer of the group.
The panels on the roof of Posada San Pedro are just a test drive for this group, Weingartner said.
"Hopefully after we're done with Posada San Pedro we move onto other residence halls," she said. "It's a very long term project."
The group was started at the beginning of this year with the help of the Posada San Pedro faculty fellow and now faculty advisor to the group, John Pollard.
He encouraged the students to start a green project in the dorm, Pounds said. The group started as four or five residents of the dorm and has since expanded to 18 people.
"I was trying to think of a way to promote community within the dorm and what I felt like, at the time, was a lack of sustainability on the campus," Pollard said.
He challenged the dorm to be the first to have solar power and they've been working on it ever since. Pollard said the students have done an enormous amount of networking and research.
"It's been amazing how much they've accomplished in nine months," he said. "I think the students involved in this club represent what is best in University of Arizona students. I'm very proud of these students. I just gave them a little push at the beginning."
This story was filed by UWIRE, which offers reporting from more than 800 colleges and universities worldwide. Read more at www.uwire.com.