Chicago Botanic Garden receives energy grant

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Chicago Botanic Garden has received a $172,800 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for a photovoltaic (PV) array installed on the pavilion roofs of its new nursery facility.

ESD (Environmental Systems Design, Inc.) was an integral partner in the nursery’s PV system design and the acquisition of the clean energy grant. The PV array consists of three hundred and twenty 270-watt modules facing west at a 2⁰ pitch. Although south facing with a greater pitch is preferred, this relatively flat position was chosen to complement the aesthetics of the nursery pavilions while maximizing the roof space to allow for the production of 114,596  kWh and $11,964 in utility savings annually. The return on investment for the system includes using the generated energy to supplement other Garden facilities nearby, including new plant production greenhouses once constructed, illustrating the Garden’s mission for sustainability and beauty through energy savings.

ESD provided design and consulting services for the PV system, including performance calculations throughout design and for the grant application process.  The firm also provided assistance with the permitting process with Cook County and coordination with the utilities.

“We are so grateful for ESD’s assistance and guidance in the application process,” says Karen Rosen, Development Officer, Foundation and Government Relations at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “Their guidance enabled us to put together a winning proposal.”

Habi-Tek, hired as the PV design consultant, worked closely with ESD to develop the design requirements for the photovoltaic installation for the new nursery. As an integral part of the team, they provided advise on inverter choice, layout of panels, maximizing kilowatt-hour production, and net metering.

The Garden’s 150,000 square foot nursery encompasses a series of structures, including the two pavilions, heated winter Quonsets growing structures, growing benches and cold frames, and aquatic tanks. Its construction is part of the Garden’s ten-year strategic growth and improvement plan, which also includes projects such as the Visitor Center renovation, a new maintenance building, and a new Education Center, along with landscaping and roadways improvements. ESD has provided engineering design and consulting services on many of these projects, as well as comprehensive sustainability consulting services for their campus. The Garden’s new Education Center, currently under construction, will also include a PV system with interactive visitor displays of real time energy savings.

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