Yesterday the Green Club Evening at MEC in Burlington was an exciting and informative experience. We learned so much about MEC’s sustainable initiatives and the information here is just the tip of the iceberg.
Perhaps the most relevant aspect of the tour to HARE members were the solar panels which many tour participants got to experience up close. Instead of having one central inverter, each row of panels had its own smaller inverter which are the white boxes you see in the photo above. Inverters are necessary to convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the panels to the alternating current (AC) electricity we use in our electricity grid.
As will be explored later in this post, there are other interesting features on the MEC Burlington roof. In order to prevent some of the other roof features from shading the panels and disturbing electricity generation MEC installed these interesting escalating racking systems. Click here for more information about MEC’s rooftop solar.
This is a view of MEC’s ceiling from inside the store. This central portion, is elevated to allow for skylight windows which you can see on the right and left. These windows help brighten up the store without the use of electricity. You can also see two vents down the centre that open and close automatically for optimal heating and air conditioning.
MEC’s parking lot has a small slope designed to feed all the rain water into a wetland area on the periphery that is owned and preserved by the co-operative. Rainwater is also used throughout the store where water conservation measures are in full force.
MEC’s store can be completely disassembled and reused! Notice how the support beams are connected with nuts and bolts which are easy to unwind.
These are not your average air conditioning units. The devices freeze water at night when electricity is cheap and plentiful and then use the ice to cool air throughout the day.
Patti and Patricia were our fantastic tour hosts. They are a wealth of knowledge. Behind them you will see some of their recycling measures. The organization is obsessive about sorting their waste. They even go out of their way to ensure that any waste brought in by customers (like coffee cups) ends up in the right place.
The document below is a PDF of the presentation provided by Patti on the solar power installation, including images showing the construction and the drawings required to get the project off the ground (and onto the roof).
MEC’s Rooftop Solar System (1,138 KB PDF file)by