[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. It was incorrectly referenced the local company that installed solar panels on the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. Its full, correct name is Power Production Management Inc.]
The roof of UF’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house isn’t littered with red cups, beer bottles or pizza boxes. Instead, it’s covered with solar panels.
The Gamma Xi chapter of Beta installed a $44,000 solar array last week. The 10-kilowatt system is the first on a Greek house at UF, said Brian Brasington, president of the chapter’s housing corporation.
Sustainability studies junior Stuart Block, 20, was the brain behind the venture.
Block approached the fraternity’s housing executives with a solar panel proposal in November.
“I just thought if people could see solar panels on our house that they would realize, ‘We can definitely contribute to the sustainability movement,’” Block said.
After getting the go-ahead from Brasington and talking with UF’s Office of Sustainability, Block discovered Power Production Management Inc., a Gainesville energy-solutions business.
The company helped the fraternity apply for and receive a $22,000 rebate from Progress Energy for the project, he said. UF loaned Beta $10,000 through an education fund.
Fraternity brothers will work off the loan over the next five years through energy-related UF community service.
Power Production Management workers installed the 42 panels last week, and they’ll be turned on within two weeks, Block said.
Each panel has the energy potential of 245 watts. The system will reduce the fraternity’s electric bill by about 20 percent, Block said.
The fraternity should recoup the expenses in about six years’ time.
Block said he hopes solar panel systems will spread throughout UF. First, he’s got to face one more challenge: keeping Beta brothers away from the panels.
“I’ll have to get people to refrain from throwing things onto the roof,” he joked.
Contact Julia Glum at [email protected].