Monday, June 21, 2010

Solar Heating Installed in Forest Preserve Restrooms

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County recently completed the installation of five solar-thermal hot-water systems.

Sun-heated water is flowing at public restrooms at three forest preserves, Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Hidden Lake in Downers Grove and Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale.

Solar-thermal systems are also at work at the headquarters building at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton and the structural maintenance facility at Blackwell Forest Preserve in West Chicago.

The solar-thermal systems work in conjunction with conventional natural gas or electric hot-water heaters, which were already in use. Solar panels mounted on the buildings' roofs preheat water using energy from the sun, reducing or at times eliminating the use of natural gas or electricity. Through reduced energy costs, the district's return on investment is about eight to 10 years.

"Even on cloudy days and through cold weather in winter, solar energy can produce hot water," said Jason Berger of the district's structural maintenance department. "The systems are designed to last at least 20 years with little to no maintenance, so the long-term savings of both utility costs and conventional energy resources will be beneficial."

A grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation paid for 25 percent of the costs, and a rebate from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Solar and Wind Energy Rebate Program funded 30 percent.


No comments: