Sustainability Education Cenre

Sustainability Education Centre, Alberta, Carmanah solar photov
City of Airdrie
Capacity (kW): 
Airdrie, AB
Commercial Operation: 

In order to to demonstrate environmental responsibility and sustainable technologies, as well being a model sustainable building, the City of Airdrie built an Environmental Education Centre. The Centre is primarily a municipal recycling depot and acts as a single-stop location to provide information and demonstration on solar technologies. The centre features passive solar, solar air heating, solar water heating, solar photovoltaics (PV), solar daylighting, plus energy and water efficiency.

The 2 kW grid dependent and roof mounted solar PV system was supplied by Carmanah (formerly Soltek Powersource), and consists of 20 roof-mounted Shell single crystal modules of 100 watts. It is connected to a Xantrex 2.5 kW inverter. The PV system cost $11.6/watt installed. The PV installation encountered a number of institutional barriers when the centre attempted to connect the system to the Alberta utility grid. The centre was required to install an interval kWh meters (costing about $3,000) in order to be connected to the Alberta utility grid. As well, in order to sell its excess electricity, which is estimated to be $70 per year, the City needed to join the Power Pool of Alberta at a cost of $150 per year. Grid connection issues have been simplified in most US states, in the European Common Market and other industrialized nations due to a large number of demonstrations that have eased utility concerns.

Other sustainable technologies includes:

Passive solar energy collected by windows on the south side, with about a 20% window to floor area ratio. An unglazed SOLARWALL ™ of 2.5 m2 pre-heats the ventilation air that feeds into the heat recovery ventilation system. The solar water system includes 30 freon-based evacuated tubes (covering an area 4.46 m2) installed on the south wall. The panels' inclination is adjustable between 90º and 50º. In the winter, most of the solar water system heat is provided to the radiant in-floor hydronic heating system on a floor area of 125m2. The solar water system is used year around for the domestic water needs. A solar storage tank of 360 litres contains two coils for the heat exchange, one for the collector loop (supply side), one for the loop to the hydronic floor. The domestic water is taken directly from the tank.