Categorized | Energy, Humboldt State

Yurok And Schatz Join Forces

Upgrades made to energy efficiency and generation across tribal lands

 

By Paul Mann
HSU Now

 

As the sun rises over the mountains, a glimmer of light reflects off the Yurok Tribe building in Weitchpec, Calif. The glint of sunlight bounces off an array of new solar panels, recently installed with the help of Humboldt State’s Schatz Energy Research Center—the newest energy project in a partnership that spans over a decade.

The Yurok tribal building in Weitchpec, Calif., is adorned with a new, 15.7-kilowatt solar electric array. The array, installed by local solar experts Roger and his Merry Band of Solar Installers, is one of many projects in more than a decade of collaboration between the Tribe and HSU’s Schatz Lab.

Since 1999, Schatz Lab has worked with the Yurok Tribe on several grants, studies and energy projects to improve sustainability. Past projects have included a fuel-cell system to provide back up power to a radio repeater station, a feasibility study for hydroelectric and wind energy development and energy audits of over fifty tribal households and multiple government buildings.

Most recently, local solar experts, Roger and his Merry Band of Solar Installers, outfitted the Tribe with a solar electric system. The Tribe also performed energy efficiency upgrades in its Weitchpec tribal office and is working to install energy efficiency upgrades at its Klamath office.

“Stewardship is a huge element of tribal culture,” says Sophia Lay, a tribal planner and the project manager for this undertaking. “The key elements here were to be more sustainable and to lower our energy use.”

Funding for the projects came from the Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Originally, that funding was to be used to conduct a retro-commissioning study for the Klamath office, install a solar panel system and enact certain retrofit projects. Retro-commissioning studies are used to identify existing structures and systems that could be altered to improve energy use. However, from 2005 to 2007, the Tribe and Schatz Lab had already performed an energy-needs assessment to identify such opportunities.

“Rather than spend money on a report to identify issues, we decided to do some of the retrofits we already knew about,” Lay says. Schatz Lab worked with the Tribe to adjust the project proposal and the Department of Energy agreed to award the grant without requiring a retro-commissioning study.
Instead, that funding went to other projects. The tribal building in Weitchpec received energy efficiency upgrades to its heating and cooling systems and occupancy sensors for its lighting system.

“Small changes like this are really beneficial,” Schatz Lab engineer Richard Engel says. “They’re relatively simple. They make sure no equipment is running unnecessarily. And they save energy.”
Additionally, the building received a 15.7-kilowatt solar electric array. That system was increased from a 13.6-kilowatt system after the price of photovoltaic equipment went down.

Schatz Lab engineers also developed an interactive interpretive display for the lobby of the Weitchpec tribal building. The full-color, touch-screen display allows users to get information on the energy efficiency upgrades of the project, including the real-time energy production of the new solar array. Information from the interpretive display will also be accessible online.

“The display definitely catches your attention as soon as you walk in the door,” Lay says. “If the information doesn’t get people’s attention right away, the fact that it’s interactive will.”

Work at the tribal building in Klamath is currently underway. Those energy efficiency upgrades include weatherizing seals on doors and installation of ceiling fans to improve heating and cooling and prevent stratification. In a room with high ceilings like the Klamath building, stratification occurs when warm air rises and doesn’t circulate with the colder air near the ground. On a cold day, that means the heat has to be turned up much higher to heat the air near the ground. Ceiling fans will also help to circulate air and keep people comfortable on a hot day, without resorting to energy-sapping air conditioning.

As this project winds down, Schatz Lab and the Yurok Tribe have already submitted another grant proposal, this one to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to continue to explore and implement actions to create a more sustainable community.

“Personally,” Lay says, “I learned a lot from this project, and that will carry over into my other projects in terms of energy efficiency.”

7 Responses to “Yurok And Schatz Join Forces”

  1. A Little Sunshine says:

    Paul Mann is Humboldt State University’s Public Relations professional charged with prolific perpetuation of one-half of reality that is “positive”.

    This is what makes PR and journalism inherently antagonistic professions and that make a PR/journalist’s writings, (or radio shows), subject to legitimate suspicion.

    Despite the innocuous content of this particular report, every self-respecting media would allow the reader to judge the content’s credibility by DISCLOSING the profession of the “reporter”.

    • If there’s something negative to report on about HSU or its leadership, we’re all ears. In years past we haven’t pulled any punches — Rollin Richmond’s ‘reefer madness’ speech to the Arcata City Council as a case in point.

      • A Little Sunshine says:

        Translation:

        “Yes, Public Relations and Journalism are inherently antagonistic professions and yes, it’s easy to disclose the “reporter’s” profession, but, I’m not going to do it, I’m the gatekeeper, trust me”.

        Assuming there’s nothing negative to report about a contemporary Public campus, because no one’s coming forward to inform you, is astounding. It’s the other half of reality! Get it yet? If a tree falls in the woods and you’re not there to hear it, did it happen, what, exactly makes it “negative” anyway?

        The Dow Jones consistently hovers around 12,000 and none of Wall Street’s vast employee network is complaining… everything must be OK, right? (Right up until the world economy collapses, the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, the highest income disparity since the Gilded Age, the U.S. Treasury is looted…then, it’s back to work at Wall Street, and OTC Derivatives remain unregulated today!).

        Wall Street is a good metaphor for HSU. Nobody’s talking! (Except their prolific PR professional, and the mountains of wrongful termination lawsuits across the state that make tenure meaningless to keep state employees silent and working in constant fear for their careers).

        Campuses in the 1920′s “didn’t notice” the absence of women.

        Campuses in 1930′s Germany “didn’t notice” the purging of Jews.

        In 2011, they “didn’t notice” the gradual elimination of the working class public that can no longer afford the user fees to attend their “public” universities! They “didn’t notice” the massive public investments in sports, entertainment, leisure activities, remodeled venues, multi-million dollar facades, and locked-gate dorms needed to attract the wealthier students, nor the absence of degrees, or prerequisite units in labor history, comparative justice, U.S. imperialism, negotiation and diplomacy, contract law, advocacy, environmental/activism units tailored to every degree, among other degrees and units fundamental to teaching citizens how to assert themselves in society.

        Unless you were purposely bating me, you really need to wake-up chuck!

        • Installing solar panels on tribal lands seems like a cut-and-dry story. If there’s another, separate, story involving HSU that you’d like to turn us on to, we’re happy to listen. We don’t have the resources to assign a full-time reporter to campus — and aside from the campus newspaper and magazines, nobody else does either.

  2. A Little Sunshine says:

    Sorry for the tirade!

    It’s immensely frustrating to watch the New Depression unfold like the old one, with a nation’s productive capacity and public wealth focused on serving the wealthy… big homes, big cars, big medical procedures, big bailouts, and even “public” university’s big costly appeal to the sensibilities of the privileged, alongside big limitations on financial aid, welfare and prohibitive deductables, share of costs, and exclusions of Medicare, or the 2-year delay in disabled Americans to file for medicare….are among countless examples of policies and practices that favor those who are a little better-off rather than those who are actually in desperate need.

    “When an entire nation’s people conspire to propagate gigantic lies, the lies of individual people and organizations become irrelevant”. (Mark Twain).

    More than money, it takes personal resolve and courage to maintain a critical public eye on uncomfortable truths that are fundamental for change to occur.

    But, it costs nothing to disclose the profession of a “reporter” who is also a highly compensated public-relations professional directly connected to the subject, something that mainstream media even manages to do.

    Please, no more silly excuses!

    • We probably have a similar perspective on the unfolding economic collapse — it’s just hard to pin any responsibility for it on Richmond, Mann and the rest. Even the university president’s inflated salary is mere chicken feed to the ruling elite.

  3. A Little Sunshine says:

    Thank you for your responses, but, it appears I’ve provided you ample opportunity to dodge the serious omission by the Sentinel when reprinting a story, to disclose the “reporter’s” profession, ESPECIALLY, when it is directly related to the story’s subject.

    As I (and Mark Twain) pointed out, everyone is hiding the same uncomfortable truth; it is unsustainable for a society’s institutions, industries and public wealth to predominantly serve one class of citizen….including HSU!

    Yet, it is the role of a Public relations professional (opportunist) to ignore, and when absolutely necessary, cleverly dismiss any and all perceived threats to the status-quo by promoting stories that salvage positive imagery regardless of the larger “negative” realities.

    Propaganda professionals in other media venues similarly deluge us with irrational optimism of a “world of plenty for the deserving” in an era rivaling America’s worst.

    That you didn’t know this, is astounding.

    You are the last person I would expect to omit the profession of a “reporter”, especially when his profession is directly related to the story.

    And…it costs nothing.

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