University paves its way to a greener future—literally

At Thompson Rivers University (TRU), a high-tech sidewalk will soon generate enough energy to power an office, Natalie Samson reports for University Affairs.

Canada's first-ever solar sidewalk is situated in a high-traffic, shady area, Samson writes. If the walkway works in this challenging location, it can work anywhere, says Michael Mehta, an environmental studies professor at the university who is project lead and faculty advisor to the project.

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Mehta reinforced the solar walkway with slip-resistant modules to stand up to heavy foot traffic, Samson writes. The panels' technology is designed to generate a consistent amount of energy, even when shade patterns change throughout the day, she notes.

Mehta says his solar walkway is a prototype for his team's broader energy-generating infrastructure project, the solar compass. For this project, the professor and his team are installing a compass-shaped path of 64 solar panels outside of the university's Arts and Education building, Jennifer Will reports for The Omega.

According to Mehta, solar energy is not a top-of-mind issue for most people. But when solar panels are seamlessly integrated into daily life, they can illustrate what happens "when art meets science," he says.

And while some people may be skeptical of the technology, Mehta says the new compass will give students an opportunity to answer their own questions about solar energy.

TRU's campus is situated in a solar-rich environment, Mehta notes, so he hopes there will be more opportunities to integrate solar technology into the existing infrastructure (Samson, University Affairs, 10/18; Will, The Omega, 10/18).

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