St. Thomas, USVI (PRWEB) February 20, 2013
It has been called a “solar awning,” an “airnasium” and an open-air building. Whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: The solar panel-lined roof on the metal structure constructed by Allied Steel Buildings has helped take the Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy off the electrical grid. The school located in St. Thomas is now the only school in the entire territory completely powered by solar energy.
For the Montessori school, that means big savings. School officials said they had a $70,000 a year energy bill that was about to climb to $84,000. With the new structure, that number now goes down to zero.
“The school was undergoing a major expansion, and we were brought in to provide design and build options for the gymnasium and other structures,” said Mike Stock, who spearheaded the project for Allied Steel Buildings’ Caribbean and Latin American Department. “We worked with them on the design so they could get off the grid.”
The 9,000-square-foot outdoor structure that has no walls serves multiple purposes. It’s an auditorium and a sports facility. There’s playground for toddlers with sand on one side, and has a dedicated area that can be set up with a stage for special events. School officials put it on the site of what once was a playground.
The solar panels on the roof of the building have an output of about 13,000 kilowatt/hours of power a month. When combined with other solar-powered projects, that’s enough to power the entire school.
Beyond the cost savings on energy, the steel building is also used to collect rain water, and has the capacity to provide 25,000 gallons of water for the school to use on irrigation. Combined with other existing cisterns, the school now has enough water to keep its soccer fields green, and its landscaping lush without having to pay for precious potable water for irrigation.
Since its completion, the school has been putting the structure to good use. It recently held a Solar Splash Concert with a number of local bands performing at an eco-fair event under the roof lined with solar panels. At the event, attendees got the chance to learn more about how they can start to save on energy bills while at the same time helping the environment. Virgin Island energy officials praised the school — not only its solar program, but also for its environmental education programs like the concert.
Allied did face a couple of challenges that they had to overcome. First, the developer had never built a pre-engineered steel building before. “It was important to take a hands on approach to educate them on the ease of construction for a pre-engineered steel structure. Once they took a look at the drawings and walked through the details they were good to go” Stock said. In addition, the building had to be completed while the students were away for the summer break, when shipping alone can create a time challenge. However, Allied was able to find a direct route to St. Thomas, and with the proper emphasis on the shipping documents the building arrived and cleared quickly to get to the jobsite on time for immediate construction.
“The company began its portion of the project in April and was completed by July”, Stock said - “so the children came back to school in August and were able to start enjoying the “airnasium” for the new school year.”
“It is an area that is more comfortable for the children to play tag, basketball, or volleyball,” Stock said. “It keeps them sheltered from the elements.”
The success of the project for the school has led the school’s builder to bring Allied Steel Buildings on for additional projects.
Allied Steel Buildings designs, engineers and fabricates pre-engineered steel buildings and metal buildings systems. With more than 3700 projects delivered, Allied Steel Buildings, offers clients an exceptional experience in prefab metal structures with outstanding customer service. We are committed to assisting customers through each step of the building process. Allied has completed projects in more than 37 countries with a large presence in the Americas and the Caribbean. For assistance from our Project Managers, including design services and expert building tips call 877-997-8335.