About the eGarden
The garden is a one-acre, off-grid education and research facility on the west side of campus that focuses on renewable energy, organic agriculture and sustainable organic waste management.
Background on the eGarden
The eGarden was established in 2015 through the efforts of Dan Dezarn, the director of sustainability, Stephen Padalino, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics, the facilities department, and many students. It was created as a hub for SUNY Geneseo's sustainability efforts. It exists on a one-acre plot on the northwest side of the campus. The eGarden serves as a home base for student research on sustainability as well as for the composting program and organic farming at the college. The ongoing work at the eGarden is a cooperative effort, involving students, faculty, the Office of Sustainability, facilities management, and Campus Auxiliary Services, among others.
In addition to students voluntarily working on projects throughout the school year, the eGarden hires several students each summer to conduct research. This way students can devote more of their time to a project than they would be able to during the school year, and a lot of progress can be made in a relatively short amount of time.
The barn was built in late 2015 and funded by Campus Auxiliary Services to serve as a workspace for sustainability projects at the college. It currently serves as a home to the composting and farming programs at the college, and runs off of a microgrid with power supplied by the wind turbine and solar arrays installed in the eGarden. It is also heated by renewable energy, with radiant heating in the floor powered by evacuated tube solar collectors on the roof.
The eGarden Lab
The eGarden is lucky enough to have a designated research lab in the basement of Newton, the lecture hall on campus. The lab has workspaces for all of the major projects and is also a great resource for the storage of equipment many of our projects require. It offers a quiet work environment where students have the opportunity to share a space with others interested in similar sustainability-related projects.
The eGarden contains several conventional renewable energy generating devices, and some experimental ones. The conventional devices are tied into the function of the eGarden. Each of these tools helps to decrease the eGarden's carbon footprint and bring it closer to carbon neutral.
All of the power generated by the wind turbines and the solar arrays is stored in the eGarden itself in a battery bank. These batteries are necessary because the sun isn't shining all of the time, and the wind is not blowing all of the time. So, in times when there is no power being produced, we can access the stored energy and use that instead of having to draw power from the grid.
Each power generating device is attached to a different set of batteries, and the power can be drawn selectively from each of the devices. The eGarden is connected to the grid, just in case more power is needed than is collected with renewable energy sources, but as the site matures it will be able to function solely on renewables.
As of 2022, with the purchase of eight new 12 Volt 300 Amp-Hour Lithium Ion batteries, the infrastructure in the battery array has been significantly improved. Battery monitors displaying many parameters of the system including battery voltage, current, power, and battery charge capacity were installed on each battery. Switches were placed between each battery to conveniently isolate each one if necessary for charging, inspection, or replacement. Finally, battery equalizers which maintain the equal charging of each battery were attached to the Lithium Ion batteries. The Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are self balancing and therefore do not require an equalizer. The inclusion of both types of batteries allows comparison studies to be conducted between the capabilities of each.