Indian Trails Library solar panels go online

In September, 60 panels were delivered and installed on the roof of the Indian Trails Public Library's main building, 355 Schoenbeck Road, Wheeling. The library was the recipient of a $100,000 grant awarded by EBSCO Information Services, a large library resources provider for academic, public library, government and school customers, in 2017. Only one other library in the country received a similar grant.

During the 2016-17 renovation and expansion of its main location, the library incorporated sustainable and energy efficiency design into the project by converting the all-electric building into one that was more environmentally responsible. Major changes included a geothermal HVAC system, installation of natural gas water heaters and LED lighting throughout the building.

"Receiving the grant was a bonus for our library and our community," said Brian Shepard, the library's executive director. "We made a commitment to a more energy efficient and sustainable building during our design phase and the solar panels are the icing on the cake. "

The original building, built in the early 1980s was all-electric, Shepard noted. Even with a 30 percent increase in the building size, the electric consumption in the new building are nearly 30 percent less. The panels went online in early December, although the full impact of the energy generated won't be fully known until they have been operational for a year.

The library is currently working to upload a real-time display of energy generated and CO2 emissions avoided in the library's lobby, where residents can view the progress.

"We're excited to be a community building that is supporting smart energy decisions," Shepard said.

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