A solar firehouse in Pittsburgh is the latest result of the city’s efforts to go green, save energy and generally improve its buildings’ efficiency. Solar panels are going up at the No. 34 station near the North Side in October this year. Funded in part by stimulus funds, the project will also create green jobs.
The type of solar panels that will be installed are solar hot water, or thermal, panels. Unlike photovoltaic (PV) panels, thermal panels are used solely to heat water. As a result, natural gas (or electricity) is not required for hot water.
The process generally works as follows:
“Collectors [thermal solar panels] get heated by sunlight and then they become hotter than the solar tank, a pump circulates a solution of water and propylene glycol through the solar hot water system. Once it returns to the storage tanks, the heat is released where it warms the … water.”
Pittsburgh has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to gather and study data on its energy savings. It will also look into deciding which additional five government buildings will be fitted with solar panels like the ones to be erected on firehouse No. 34. The city also will train building inspectors and workers to perform maintenance on the solar panels.
The solar firehouse in Pittsburgh will be added to the recent trend of more government buildings with solar panels. From Oregon to Hawaii, Massachusetts and many other states, cities and counties in between, you’ll find solar panels on schools, town halls, libraries and administration buildings. These installations save government monies and help conservation efforts.
Is there a solar firehouse in your town? Don’t you think its time to heat things up?