The University’s first solar table opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 18. The table is located between the Observatory Hill Dining Hall and the Lile-Maupin residence hall.
Fourth-year Engineering student Tatiana Sokolova, who led the project, said the table will be a useful resource for students.
“The solar table project serves as the creation of an outdoor study space with shade and power outlets with the added benefit of being completely powered by clean solar energy,” Sokolova said in an email statement. “Additionally, it serves as a generator for devices during times of power emergency.”
The process that culminated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony began as a class project for the Global Sustainability class — ARCH 2150/GSVS 2150 — in spring 2015, Sokolova said.
Following the end of the semester, Sokolova took up the project herself and worked toward its fruition.
The table selected for the project was the CarrierClass Green Infrastructure's Connectable table, because it does not have to be bolted into the ground and hopefully can be moved around Grounds in the coming years, Sokolova said.
First-year College student Sam Brinkley said the positive impact of the solar table being placed in the new dorms area is the promotion of overall sustainability on Grounds.
“It is a great step toward making U.Va. a more sustainable university, and I hope many other first-year students will take notice and buy into the sustainability mindset," Brinkley said.
Specifically, the table features four traditional electric receptacles as well as eight USB ports underneath plastic coverings in front of each of the table’s benches. There are also several lights underneath the solar panel to allow students to use the space after dark.
The table’s solar panel has an array capacity of 530 watts and can produce 2,106 watt-hours of energy and possibly charge up to 150 electronic devices each day. The table’s batteries can sustain its charging abilities for up to three days in case of cloudy weather.
The installation of the table was made possible with support from the Open Space Working Group, Sokolova said.
Sokolova applied for several grants to fund the project. The U.Va. Parent’s Fund contributed $10,000 toward the table, and Green Initiatives Funding Tomorrow provided a grant of $5,000.
The University’s Facilities Management also contributed $5,000 for the table, which cost a little over $17,000 in total. The leftover funds will contribute to the upkeep of the table over its lifetime.
Founded in 2011, GIFT is a committee that distributes extra funds in the Student Council budget to student-directed projects that promote sustainability on Grounds. GIFT has provided grants to 13 projects in the 2015-16 academic year.
GIFT Vice Chair Zach Calhoun, a third-year Engineering student, said the solar table will contribute to sustainability on Grounds.
“We chose the solar panel table because we thought it would be a visible symbol of the University's commitment to sustainability while also presenting a learning opportunity to those interested in solar energy,” Calhoun said.
Moving forward, Sokolova said she hopes more tables will come to the University.
“We hope to get additional tables on Grounds with further partnerships and sponsors and inspire more open space and alternative energy projects on and off Grounds,” Sokolova said.
Sokolova said students can get involved with future sustainable projects on Grounds through the Open Space Working Group and the Energy Working Group.
Correction: This article originally said the table featured eight traditional receptacles and four USB ports. The article has been updated to reflect that the table actually has four traditional receptacles and eight USB ports.