Graig Mantle

Newly elected Associated Students Inc. President Brandon Souza is teaming up with the Renewable Energy Club to figure out a way to heat the Rec Center pool using solar power.

The first step calls for a feasibility analysis by the Renewable Energy Club on how difficult it would be to implement the infrastructure necessary. Club President Neil Bulger said there are a lot of ideas being thrown around, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

“We would talk to faculty and see if we could turn it into a senior project,” Bulger said. “We would have to figure out how we would fund it. Would ASI fund it? We have to figure that out.”

Bulger also said that it might be possible to get help from the College of Engineering.

“(Those are) just some preliminary talks about what it would take to get the pool solar,” Souza said.

Souza said that the idea to heat the pool using solar energy came from past ASI staff and has been in the idea phase for a while. One of the goals of the project would be to promote sustainable energy practices on campus facilities.

Once the feasibility report is completed, it would be submitted to the University Union Advisory Board, which would review the proposal. The board would then make a suggestion to ASI executive director Rick Johnson and Cal Poly President Warren Baker on a course of action.

The feasibility report could be finished as early as next fall.

In the meantime, Bulger said he is busy getting together a group of students and faculty, most from the mechanical engineering department, that could tackle some of the problems facing installation.

One of those is the new natural gas boilers on the roof of the Rec Center that currently heat the pool. They were both installed two years ago, and have an expected life of five years. But if action is taken to replace them with a solar system, the school would have to figure out something to do with them.

Bulger said the Renewable Energy Club has already spoken to the Rec Center manager and toured the roof of the facility, but that they’re keeping their options open as to where a solar-powered system might be installed. The roof is just one possibility.

The Renewable Energy Club is no stranger to tough engineering challenges. In 2005, the team entered in the Solar Decathlon where it built a solar-powered home. Constructed in San Luis Obispo, it was then deconstructed, shipped to Washington, D.C. for the event and rebuilt. Bulger said the club raised around $500,000 for that project, which was the club’s biggest task thus far. In comparison, he said converting Cal Poly’s pool would not be nearly as tough.

“This would probably be on the back burner compared to that,” Bulger said.

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