Earth Day 2011

On Earth Day 2010 a half-dozen members of A Greener Field decided to clean the largest solar array on The Field Museum's roof.  Although it seems so obvious in retrospect, it wasn't until meeting with Tom DeBates, the technician who helps keep our solar array humming, that we understood that the performance of photovoltaic solar panels can be greatly hampered by exterior dirt/grime.  Powerwashing had seemed like the way to go, until it was determined that sensitive wiring could possibly be damaged.

So we went out and cleaned the array by hand, and later that *exact same day,* Tom actually sent an email to ask if we had done so, as he noticed a sudden and otherwise inexplicable improvement in the array's performance.



A Greener Field will once again be honoring Earth Day by cleaning the solar array, although this year we determined that the Earth would be OK with the team postponing the event into May.  Being located almost immediately adjacent to Lake Michigan is amazing, but it does make conditions on our roof extremely windy and chilly (and this year, snowy!) in early Spring.

You can read more about the importance of solar energy and the role of educational institutions like The Field Museum here:

http://energyseeds.org/2010/03/04/the-field-museum-is-a-solar-school-in-chicago/

And you can see the real-time electricity production of the Museum's total array here:

http://illinoissolarschools.org/solar-projects/field-museum-of-natural-history-1/

Learn more about A Greener Field and The Field Museum's related ongoing efforts by visiting:

http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/department/greener-field