Students who participated in last semester’s Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) at Green Mountain College (GMC) have designed solar-powered garage that won them a $50,000 grant to build it from the E2 Energy to Educate program sponsored by the Exelon Company, Constellation.

The structure, which they have named after the Welsh sun goddess, “Olwen Solar Garage,” optimizes cold weather performance of electronic vehicles. Designed for use by the REED program and the working farm at GMC, it features a a 16 panel 3.86-kilowatt solar array with a fiberglass passive solar south-facing wall that can augment early-season germination of crops. Serving as a miniature power plant, the building consumes the power that it produces while serving a need for sustainable food production.

“It’s clear that oil is becoming increasingly expensive and that carbon based nonrenewable fuels are contributing to climate destabilization. This project will demonstrate that solar energy can be a less expensive and renewable fuel for cars,” said REED course instructor and energy expert, Dr. Steven Letendre, associate professor of economics and environmental studies. “In addition, cars that are connected to the grid can themselves become energy storage devices, potentially earning money for the owner.”

Having received the grant from Constellation, and working closely with contractor mentors and performing most of the labor, students broke ground on the project last September. “The building was designed and constructed in one semester,” said lead design-build instructor, Lucas Brown, assistant professor of environmental studies.