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Darby Community Public Library to generate 88% of needs from solar PV

Darby Community Public Library to generate 88% of needs from solar PV

The building that now houses the Darby Community Public Library opened its doors in September of 2004.  The 5,000 square-foot structure is a national demonstration building, showcasing a new type of construction featuring small diameter roundwood for beams and trusses. Described as the “Sistine Chapel of Small Diameter Roundwood,” the Darby Library is an inspiring example of what partners can do when they put their minds together.  It was a true community effort, both in concept and practice. It was constructed using local contractors and suppliers incorporating as many locally made supplies as possible.  The furnishings were manufactured by local craftsmen and made from area timber products.

Energy efficiency played a large role in the design and construction of the Darby library. It boasts a ground-source heat pump system, along with good insulation and energy efficient windows, that all keeps the space comfortable. “The intent was to include solar PV during construction, but at that time the funds weren’t available,” says Veryl Kosteczko, a former Library Board Member. However, after seeing a local solar installation in Hamilton, Kosteczko became reinvested in trying to install solar the library.

Solar installers put panels into place

The Board contacted Dan Brandborg with SBS Solar and together they designed a system that will cover 88% of the Library’s annual electricity needs. The system was funded using a grant from the Universal System Benefits program along with private donations, including time donated by the engineers, architects, and installers involved with the project. Library Director Wendy Campbell says the savings allow the library to focus on more efficiently using tax-payer dollars. “We outlined the costs of the installation versus the annual savings, and it was an easy decision for the Board.”

Today, the library continues to grow in community use. In addition to its book collections, it provides eleven desktop computers and five laptops for public use, a free meeting room for group use, free Wifi. Serving a population of 4,300 in a 1,376 square mile area, the library is the center for community activities. In addition, it’s location right on Highway 93 makes it a great visual. “We hope it will inspire others to do the same,” says Kosteczko.

The system includes sixty-two 325-Watt panels, totaling more than 20kW of installed capacity. In staying in line with the educational purpose of the library, by using the SolarEdge Grid tie Inverter, Model SE-10,000-US the system production can be monitored from anywhere.

See more via NBC Montana.

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