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Case Study Released: Everglades University

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Case Study Released: Everglades University

Last month, we shared AquaGrove’s latest installation of the off-grid aquaponics system with expanded grow beds at Everglades University’s campus in Sarasota, Florida.  Since then, new data has been released regarding the progress and outcomes of the teachers and students who have been using the system and sharing their knowledge with other educators and organizations in the community.

First, a little background on the University…

Everglades University is a not-for-profit institution that is weaving the principles of sustainability, green building, and environmental consciousness into its undergraduate degree programs in order to meet the increasing demand for green careers.  Everglades students learn from industry professionals to become experts in the field of green energy, contributing to the availability of energy-efficient goods and services for both individual consumers and companies while helping to make our world a cleaner and healthier place.

As the flagship campus for the University’s sustainability initiatives, the EU Sarasota campus has installed a number of energy-saving devices on and around the campus, including two solar trees, which Smart cars can plug into and recharge, a rooftop solar array, a wind turbine at the southwest corner of the campus, in order to help decrease the campuses dependency on traditional energy sources. One component of their program includes a Solar Teaching Lab. The lab includes a variety of solar technologies with an outside covered area for holding classes to review meters and research the efficiency and reliability of various technologies in Florida’s unique climate. EU Sarasota’s newest addition to their solar teaching lab is the innovative AquaGrove aquaponics system.  The AquaGrove is an indoor/outdoor aquaponics system offering exclusive and patented thermal tanks to reduce energy consumption for the purpose of tank temperature management.

As mentioned in our previous article, Everglades University’s AquaGrove system was brought to the next level of efficiency and sustainability last month through the addition of a dual-grow bed and solar power with battery backup.  With the dual-grow beds, the University increased its grow space from 16 square feet to nearly 50 square feet, adding two stacked grow beds adjacent to the system already in place.  Additionally, four PV panels with battery backup were added to both the AquaGrove and auxiliary grow beds, enabling the system, pumps and grow lights to run by the power of the sun.

With the addition of the Power Panel Gen-2-O (solar thermal generator), EU expanded their program to include add-on features enabling students to interact with the technology similarly to how it is used in remote areas and disaster relief efforts.  Now students will be able to cook meals sous vide style, power other appliances, and even set up hot showers without ever requiring access to the “grid”.

Campus Vice President, Caroline King, expressed the importance of this technology for student: “At EU Sarasota, the AquaGrove serves as a powerful and interactive teaching tool and goes a long way towards helping our students to gain first-hand knowledge of methods to reduce our carbon footprint, grow food in a sustainable manner, and deploy the AquaGrove 'off the grid' for disaster relief and to assist communities without traditional energy infrastructure. With addition of dual grow beds and our unique Solar Power Array, I am very proud to have one of the first solar powered aquaponics systems of this kind on our campus.”

Prior to the expansion of their garden, Everglades University already experienced great benefits from having the AquaGrove on their campus.  Students have been able to utilize the AquaGrove in a multitude of related studies including Introduction to Sustainability, all chemistry courses and multiple alternative energy courses.  Several students volunteer their time outside of class to maintain and monitor the AquaGrove system and present the system to community groups, and the University has hosted a variety of community events including Sustainability and Solar Fairs, Girls and Boys Scouts, Earth Day and more. 

Students have been able to experiment with growing a variety of crops including leaf lettuce, basil, green beans, mint and mixed salad.  They have also raised tilapia and developed a standardized fish feeding protocol, data logs and run comparisons for growth rates based on published data for tilapia.

With the new expansion of their grow space, and solar powered system upgrades, Everglades University will be able to produce more fish and healthy greens with less time, space and energy. 

To read more and access the published Case Study, click here.  To learn more about how you and your school, family and community can reap the benefits of AquaGrove, contact us.