From Unplugged Living (who got the news from Treehugger), the story of University of Vermont student Ross Nizzle’s experiment with “going solar” in his dorm room. As Ross notes on his web site for the project, installing a solar panel in the dorm presented a number of unique challenges:
With the idea of creating a system to meet the basic electrical needs of my Apple Powerbook G4, iPod, cell phone, and Palm Pilot, I researched and priced out a system, ordered it and set it up. The challenge with the system was not building a solar energy system, but where I was building it: in a college dorm room. I could not make any [structural modifications] to the building, I had no power tools – or any tools, for that matter, and also knew that I would have move the system every few months. Everything I needed – tools included, needed to be purchased and I had to work around the needs of others that I lived with, as well as my own already busy schedule. Therefore, “Installation” is not only how I wired the project, but the adventures and trials I had to go through before I could even begin screwing planks together or connecting wires.
Ross has written an overview of the process of installing the system and, perhaps more challenging, getting it approved (which is still officially up in the air). I really admire his initiative here. As Kevin at UL notes, most college students, upon moving in, focus like laser beams on 1) how to import alcohol, and 2) how to meet & greet with members of the opposite sex. I certainly hope the University of Vermont congratulates this young man, and encourages such experimentation by its students (within the rules, of course — they really can’t have students making structural changes to the building…).