College dedicates solar array

College dedicates solar array

May 7, 2012
Contact: Maryville College Office of Communications

Just as the April 19 dedication ceremony for Maryville College’s new solar photovoltaic array got underway on Thursday, the sun broke through the clouds.

The crowd that had gathered on the lawn in front of Crawford House appreciated the warmth that accompanied the rays but knew, from a presentation just minutes before, that the new array didn’t need full sun to generate electricity. In fact, since its installation in January, the array had generated more than 30 days worth of electricity for Crawford House.

“We celebrate the real outcomes seen here,” said Bruce Guillaume, director of Crawford House.

A two-story traditional farmhouse located on the campus that is now home to the Mountain Challenge program, Crawford House was constructed in 1876 as the home of Gideon Stebbins White Crawford, an alumnus of Maryville College and professor of mathematics and registrar. It is now undergoing improvements and renovations to make it Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

According to Bruce Guillaume, director of Mountain Challenge, if approved, Crawford House will be the first historical structure in the state to be approved for the certification.

In addition to college administrators, faculty, staff and students, members of the Maryville City Council and other city officials were in attendance. Prior to the dedication ceremony, they took a tour around Crawford House while Guillaume explained some of the energy-efficient and environmentally friendly measures undertaken in the last two years.

The array, erected by Efficient Energy of Tennessee, is funded through a grant received and administered by the College from the Appalachian Regional Commission. In order to apply for the grant, the College had to partner with a municipality, so administrators asked the city of Maryville to support it.

At the dedication, Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor ‘70 said projects like the solar array demonstrated “the way the city and College should work together,” adding that one of the many advantages of having a college within a city’s boundaries is a “constant influx of new ideas.”

An array is a collection of photovoltaic solar panels that converts solar energy into electrical energy. In addition to the College’s array being a cost-savings measure, it is also an educational tool that officials with the City of Maryville will have access to, along with faculty and students.

Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the environmental studies program, explained that the College’s solar array was of such a size that city officials could look to it as an example of how the technology could be applied to small businesses and residential customers within the city limits.

At the dedication, O’Gorman said he was grateful for the help given from the city of Maryville, Mountain Challenge and Maryville College.

“This is one milestone in a two-year program that will bring energy efficiency to the community,” he said.

In terms of advantages to MC students, O’Gorman predicted that undergraduates majoring in environmental studies, mathematics and the social sciences would use the array to gather and analyze data, study the engineering design and discuss economic principles and policy.

Dr. William T. “Tom” Bogart, Maryville College president, applauded the vision of those involved with the project, particularly the Crawford Family, which maintained the house for generations and then saw that the College would benefit from owning it.

Duncan Crawford, a descendant of Gideon Crawford, was in attendance at the dedication ceremony and said he and his family were excited about the updating and future plans for Crawford House.

“It’s very gratifying – gratifying to see how my great grandfather’s house continues to be used for the advancement of the College and education,” he said. “We approve of this vision of looking forward.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.