Renewable Energy Analysis for New Glarus School District


Abigail Becker


Green County
Community Size
University of Wisconsin - Madison
UniverCity Year
Case Type
Project Stories
Focus Areas
EPA Region 5, USA
University Department Code
Sustainable Development Goals
07 Affordable and Clean Energy
Population Type

The New Glarus School District desires to operate more sustainably, and has already made great strides in implementing energy saving methods such as new roofs, energy efficient
lights, and better insulation throughout the past five years. Now, NGSD is ready to switch some
of its energy sources to renewable technologies. Different renewable energy sources were
analyzed for the purposes of supplementing the current energy supply to the school district. It is
necessary that a new system is compatible with the current landscape, and is able to be combined
with other community projects, such as the construction of a new pool, in order to ensure the
town’s support. The largest constraints that impact the scope of the design are budget and land
area. The client gave no preference of the type of design, and only wished that the design be
spatially conservative and fall within a budget of $200,000. Limiting factors also include
environmental variables, such as the soil type or the average amount of sunlight and wind the
area receives.
The design process consisted of brainstorming efforts followed by evaluation,
categorization, and research into chosen topics. After an initial analysis, options were once again
evaluated and categorized based on the potential of groups of ideas to reach the energy goal.
Although there were a multitude of brainstormed ideas, notable options which were originally
researched include solar hot water, geothermal, solar photovoltaic, renewable energy credits and
power purchase agreements. Solar hot water was omitted for the reason that the school buildings
do not use a substantial amount of water throughout the day, and therefore the resulting energy
savings would be insignificant and not worth the installation cost for the system. Geothermal,
while logistically viable, was disqualified because there were too many unknowns to proceed
forward without spending thousands of dollars just to assess feasibility. It was an option that was
better suited for a customer who knew that they wanted to pursue geothermal as a preferred
energy solution, not a curiosity-based inquiry into sustainable design. Eventually, a rooftop solar
photovoltaic system was chosen, as it would best fit the constraints of the client by leaving space
available for parking and further landscape development projects.
The final design provided options for different tiers of commitment for several system
sizes, because of the presently unknown public and committee responses in New Glarus. Three
system sizes were explored for the New Glarus Secondary School rooftop. Financing options
include school district funding, available cash grants from the state and utility, or a public-private
partnership. A public-private partnership would involve third party funding and ownership of the
panels, but would guarantee the building of a system large enough to cover the energy needs of
the school district. Otherwise, the district could finance the project and build a smaller system
within the allotted budget, which could be scaled up yearly as desired. If the latter method is
chosen, it is possible to enroll in a renewable energy credit purchase through WPPI, which would
ensure that the energy purchased by the school district is sourced from off site renewable energy
systems. Power provided from a 250 kW solar photovoltaic system would provide approximately
70% of the school district’s energy load, compared to a small system (10kW) which would
provide around 3%. The cost for these designs would be approximately $682,000 and $32,000
respectively, with multiple financing options presented to the district.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

UniverCity Year Contact Info
Gavin Luter
Managing Director

University Faculty Contact
Scott Williams
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Local Government / Community Contact
Scott Anderson

Teacher at Juda School

Translate »