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SPACE units help city during an emergency

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In a new partnership with the city, a UH Green Building Components-supported team of faculty researchers and industry partners will provide city parks, schools, fire stations and other locations with 17 of its Solar Powered Adaptive Containers for Everyone (SPACE).

SPACE units are recycled shipping containers equipped with solar generators rated to withstand hurricane force wind and design to deploy quickly.  Two people can put a unit into service in approximately 30 minutes.

“The top priority for these SPACE units will be to power critical devices,” said Joe Meppelink, director of UHGBC and professor in the university’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. “Following Hurricane Ike, medicines required refrigeration and crucial medical devices could not be recharged.  SPACE units will be used to accommodate these kinds of needs.”

Each SPACE unit contains 20 solar panels that generate 3.5 kilowatts. This is enough power to concurrently run an air conditioner, three small refrigerators, a few computers, communication devices and lighting.

The city recently awarded a $1.35 million contract to UHGBC to construct these SPACE stations,  which are scheduled to be in place for the 2011 hurricane season.

“The city of Houston values its new partnership with the University of Houston,” said Laura Spanjian, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability. “It is excited to be utilizing state-of-the-art unique solar technology, to not only help Houstonians during an emergency, but to provide, in non-emergency times, spaces for offices, direct services, storage, first aid stations or cooling locations during special events…all off the grid.”

SPACE was developed in 2009 as a collaboration between UHGBC, Metalab, Harvest Moon Development and ttweak. In 2010, the SPACE team partnered with Ameresco Solar Solutions to respond to the city’s request for proposals (RFP) to construct mobile solar generators. Of the proposals submitted for this RFP, UHGBC emerged as the lead vendor and was awarded the contract.

A SPACE unit will be on display with another UHGBC product, the gro-POD (a modular gardening system) on April 23 during the Earth Day Festival at Discovery Green (1500 McKinney St.).



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