Friday, January 2013
There’s a new research experiment taking place above our heads at the Chicago Waldorf School that complements our already functioning solar panels, bringing another element of sustainable energy to our learning community.
This experiment is a wind-speed site-survey, and it is being implemented to see if our campus could support a future wind-turbine, which would help offset energy costs for the school.
What is a wind-speed site-survey? It is nothing more than “mapping” the wind’s speed over several months at a specific location. Over the better part of a year, the wind is being measured on the roof adjacent to the school’s gymnasium. This is to take into consideration any seasonal variations in wind, and to get an average wind speed. The measurements are accomplished by using an anemometer, which has three cups, and spins in the wind. It is wired to a battery-powered data-logger which allows it to log, or store, the speed of wind in meters per second. Data is recorded every ten seconds, and is then downloaded to a laptop, where specialized software computes the average wind speed and produces graphs of the wind’s natural “ups-and-downs” over a given time period.
From this study, Chicago Waldorf School will have the information it needs to make an informed decision as to whether or not a wind-turbine would be a suitable investment, and whether it would save the school money.
The idea for this wind study was brought to the attention of high school science and physics teacher Brian Gleichauf by a local start-up called Chicago Urban Energy, Inc. CUE president Robert Peplin explains “When I first had the idea of starting a company that performed wind-speed site-surveys, my initial thought was to establish myself by approaching some progressive businesses or institutions in the neighborhood and offer my services ‘pro bono’. I hoped they would be receptive to the idea and they were. Both Brian and the Chicago Waldorf School have been a big help to my company’s beginning.”
Along with the wind-speed survey taking place at the CWS, CUE is performing additional surveys at residences in Rogers Park, as well as at both Uncommon Ground restaurant locations in the city.
In teaming up with Chicago Urban Energy, Brain hopes to add to the range of sustainable activities that CWS offers, which currently include gardening, beekeeping, composting, and bicycle and auto mechanics.
The site-survey was initiated in May of 2012, and is still providing monthly data to the school. Robert Peplin hopes to make this a lasting survey: ”Even if the results from the wind survey turn out to be unsatisfactory (meaning there is not enough wind to generate power from a wind turbine), at least two things have been accomplished: money that would have potentially been spent on a wind turbine can now be put into other sustainable measures; and the students at Waldorf will have the exposure to broaden their minds and understanding of wind power and the science behind it all.”