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Stone Lab renovations 'will greatly enhance our ability to attract students and scientists'

Recent renovations at Stone Lab and the Research Building on South Bass Island's Peach Point have resulted in more modern classrooms, more conveniently equipped research and maintenance spaces, and most importantly, an alternative energy setup that will save the lab 10-25 percent on its electricity bills.

Ohio Sea Grant received support for the renovations from the state capital as the legislature appropriated $750,000 from two capital budgets.

"I told the architects it would be easy to put $750,000 into the buildings and not even see the improvements," said Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Director Jeff Reutter. "Instead, we wanted to use the money in the way that's most visible, and will greatly enhance our ability to attract students and scientists, and to better conduct science."

The Research Building also acts as the mechanical workshop for Stone Lab. Workers repaired and painted termite-damaged and broken plaster walls, pipes deliver lake water to aquaria, and new lighting reflects off black and red cabinets. The updated electrical system includes drop-down outlets from the ceiling, a sliding door now separates maintenance space from the research side, and workers can use a new rollup door to move boats and other large equipment into the work area.

On the first floor of the Gibraltar Island Lab Building, new doors open into both classrooms where a new drop ceiling covers electric lines and plumbing, while on the walls, white dry erase boards have replaced dark chalkboards, and new cabinets rest on shiny epoxy flooring.

(Click here to see pictures of Stone Lab's facilities on Gibraltar Island and on South Bass Island's Peach Point.)

New solar thermal, electricity panels

"If you were going to do a solar power project, this is a really good place to do it."—Jeff Reutter

Interior updates weren't the only changes on the island. Stone Lab received a grant from Ohio State's Office of Energy and Environment to install solar power panels. Electricity at the lab costs almost four times as much as it does on Ohio State's main campus, and there are more sunny summer days at Put-in-Bay than anywhere else in Ohio. "If you were going to do a solar power project, this is a really good place to do it," said Reutter.

In addition to solar electricity panels, the project also includes solar thermal panels, located on the Dining Hall roof, to heat water for the industrial dish tank. "We evaluated where we had the best light and where we use the most hot water," Reutter explained. "It turned out that the answer for both of those things was the top of the dining hall."

Stone Lab uses about 200,000 kilowatt hours per year. The total output of the solar canopy is 10,560 watts, and the ground-mount array adds 1,440 watts, so the panels combine to produce about 12,000 watts. Stone Lab Manager Matt Thomas expects that continued improvements to the lab buildings and their energy efficiency will provide an even better return on the green investments made this summer.

-- Matthew Forte and Christina Dierkes, Ohio Sea Grant Communications