The Illinois Solar Tour, hosted by the Illinois Solar Education Association, allows people from across the state to visit various places that use solar energy. This could be houses, shops, or other places like CLC.
Last year, in addition to the clearly visible solar field on the ground floor, CLC also installed solar panels on the roofs of campus buildings.
During the tour, visitors can not only see what equipment CLC has on campus, but they can also find out about the use of solar energy for themselves. The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is accompanied by guides, many of whom are CLC students, to educate visitors. The tour takes place on the west side of the campus on Willow Way.
Visitors are also taken to the roof for a safe look at the solar panels.
David Husemöller, CLC sustainability manager, expects the tour's audience to be a diverse group of people from the community.
“It can be a resource for community members and companies to learn how to generate and use solar energy properly,” said Husemöller. “Other universities and institutions that want to start using solar power can come too.”
He also hopes the people at CLC will want to know what the college is doing to be sustainable and green.
“We hope that CLC students and staff will be interested,” said Husemöller. “You will see how your school is partially powered by the sun. This is a brand new thing and exciting.
CLC has a 1.9 megawatt system when it combines the energy from the solar panels on the roofs and in the field. If a single site generates more than 2 megawatts, they are considered a utility company under Illinois law. Husemöller hopes to set up a display so people can better understand what a 1.9 megawatt system means.
“Visitors will see a live demonstration of what solar panels can do,” said Husemöller. “They don't move, so many people know nothing but that they create power.”
Data is still being collected, but Husemöller estimates that almost 20% of the energy on the Grayslake campus will now come from solar energy.
While the Grayslake Campus is already at its limit, solar power can still be produced at the other campuses and locations. Solar panels are currently planned in the Lakeshore Student Union building and on the Lakeshore municipal farm to expand the college's sustainability efforts.
After the opening, according to Husemöller, there is even the possibility of solar power in the Advance Technology Center and the Brae Loch building.
In the past only the science building used solar energy, now some of the solar energy produced on campus flows into all buildings. In 2018 and 2019, CLC took part in the solar tour that introduced the science building. During these tours, local politicians and interested home and business owners came to see what CLC is doing.
“Lots of people are looking for ways to save money on bills,” said Husemöller. “In the summer, the electricity bills pile up and then you get most of the energy from the sun. Companies benefit from their interest in it.”
The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable, quality education, cultural enrichment, and partnerships to benefit the diverse communities of northeast Illinois. Available in three locations in Grayslake, Vernon Hills, and Waukegan, or online, college courses are affordable and accessible to help every student achieve academic, professional, and personal goals. More than 70,000 students have graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher education institution listed by Forbes as one of Illinois' top 15 best places to work and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.
This news release was produced by the College of Lake County. The views expressed here are your own.