Each morning a new kind of flower blooms on Mary Baldwin University’s Cannon hill.
It’s a SmartFlower — a photovoltaic solar electric generating system that collects energy from the sun and generates power for a portion of the Staunton campus — and MBU is the first university in the United States to install one.
According to Sustainability Coordinator Sam Stoner, MBU acquired the SmartFlower as part of its agreement with Collegiate Clean Energy LLC, a power generation company that provides energy from 100 percent renewable sources. Much of the company’s power is generated from landfill gas plants around Virginia. Stoner believes the campus will not only benefit from the use of renewable energy, but also from the conversation sparked by the solar device.
“When students and other members of the community walk by, they’ll see that we have an innovative, tangible example of our campus commitment to sustainable energy sources,” Stoner said.
The SmartFlower, connected to the President’s House, has the ability to generate 2,400 watts. It tracks the sun throughout the day, has its own built-in cooling and cleaning system.