National Arboretum Unveils First Solar-Powered
April 27, 2009
National Arboretum is "going green" with the installation of its
first solar-powered drip irrigation system that will save electricity and water
at the 446-acre facility operated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in
The new system is part of a long-range plan to update and improve the
arboretum grounds. Future plans include installing a larger solar collector
near the National Capitol Columns and solar shingles on the Arbor House, which
houses the gift shop and visitor restrooms.
Installation of the new system marked the end of a week-long workshop
conducted by students and faculty from Alfred State College of the
State University of New York. The
workshopattended by arboretum staff, contractors and
homeownersprovided hands-on instruction on how to construct and use the
system and its many benefits.
Located in Nursery 5, which is used to conduct research aimed at the
development of improved trees for landscape use, the new system consists of six
solar panels that collect sunlight, a battery that stores the energy, and a
converter box that converts the stored energy into electricity used to run the
nursery's drip-irrigation system. Because of the nursery's remote location,
installing solar panels was less expensive than running an electrical line from
the main power source, approximately a half mile away. As a result, the
arboretum will see immediate savings on costs.
The latest project is a staff-driven effort to cut energy costs and conserve
resources. The new system took less than one year to complete. Arboretum
Elias first met Alfred State representatives during the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Bio
Energy Awareness Days (BEAD II) exhibition held at the arboretum last June. The
meeting led to a five-year cooperative agreement to develop and install green
technologies that will help the arboretum reduce its carbon footprint.
The arboretum's new system serves as a model for more energy-efficient
landscape gardening. Solar power can be used in urban and suburban areas and is
applicable to all types of power systems. Gardeners can use it to power water
features, such as fountains and waterfalls, and irrigation systems.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the USDA.