New solar-powered tables bring bright idea to campus
Three additions to Temple’s Main Campus made this week are designed to give students more power. Literally.
On Tuesday, crews installed new Solar Dok picnic tables at outdoor dining areas — two on the vendor pad near the TECH Center and Anderson Hall and one at the corner of Liacouras of Polett Walks. Manufactured by EnerFusion Inc., the units have solar panels mounted on their umbrellas that provide continuous power to electric outlets attached to a pole at the center of the table surface.
Each unit has four standard power outlets and two USB ports that allow students and other users to charge their laptops, iPads, cell phones and other electronic gadgets while enjoying coffee or lunch. The solar panels store enough electricity to power the outlets, as well as LED lights that illuminate the table area, overnight. Temple is the first university in Pennsylvania to install the tables, according to the manufacturer.
According to Michelle Lai, assistant vice president for campus development and capital planning, the solar tables are a high-tech way for Temple to be expand its sustainability efforts. In addition to the renewable power source they offer, the units themselves are constructed of plastic materials made from 1,200 recycled plastic milk jugs.
The project complements Temple’s initiative to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent in the next two years. As part of that effort, the Office of Sustainability is focusing on educating the community about energy conservation and helping students, faculty and staff to limit their energy usage.
The tables are a great educational tool, says Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Grady, because they allow people to interact with solar technology. Each table has a meter that shows how much power the panels are generating at any given time.
“Unlike solar panels that are on roofs of buildings, these stations allow students to get up close and personal with solar because they are at a human scale,” said Grady. “This project is a great tool because it helps us understand both the advantages and limitations of solar technology.”