Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Ivy-Covered Walls Take on New Power from the Sun

Solar-generated electricity is taking a new form – that of solar panels shaped like artistically fashioned ivy leaves decorating a wall’s surface.

The first location in the United States to apply this colorful array is the University of Utah (the U) in Salt Lake City. This new product called Solar Ivy was developed by Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology (SMIT), a company in New York.

Sustainably Minded Interactive Technologies
Drawings of the solar panels in a natural-looking "ivy-covered wall" arrangement.

The idea and most of the cash for the project comes from the U’s student-led Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF), which is funded by student contributions. Each year, students compete for grants to finance projects that have a positive environmental impact and help educate the campus community about developing earth-conscious habits.

Bringing Solar Ivy to the U was spearheaded by Tom Melburn, an environmental studies major. His project was awarded a grant for roughly two-thirds of the $42,000 cost of the project. The remaining third will be raised from the campus community in a drive being announced today to generate funds and awareness of the many ‘green’ efforts taking place all over campus.

“Students are becoming so engaged in creating a sustainable campus that we could only partially fund all the projects submitted this year,” says Whitney Williams, SCIF coordinator. “So, we’re turning to others in our community to partner on this one. By buying a leaf on the array, donors will make possible not only a novel energy-saving device, but also a highly visible reminder on campus to conserve electricity.”

Donations to the project can be made online at

Solar Ivy is a composition of small photovoltaic panels shaped so that they can be installed in an attractive arrangement, much like ivy growing over a building’s surface. The panels generate electricity that is used by the building, offsetting the amount of power the building buys from the utility company. Panels can be shaped and colored to suit the installation.

“We’re considering Orson Spencer Hall for the array because of its solar exposure and its visibility,” says Melburn, who is coordinating the project with campus facilities managers. “The south-facing brick façade receives high levels of unobstructed sun all year. Its location at the center of campus means high levels of traffic.” SCIF and Project Manager Archie Phillips also are considering the south façade of the Olpin Student Union building, which also receives significant solar exposure. The decision as to which building to use will be decided during the design phase of the project over the coming weeks.

The installation of the prefabricated panels is expected to begin late this fall and projected to take a few weeks to complete.

About the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF):
SCIF is a student-led enterprise directed by the Office of Sustainability. The fund provides financial support for real-world projects that improve the University of Utah’s environmental quality and make the campus more sustainable. SCIF allocated $171,000 to 14 projects for the 2011 school year. For more information, explore the SCIF website at
About Solar Ivy:
Solar Ivy ( is a product of the Brooklyn, N.Y. firm SMIT that has been challenging accepted notions about solar power collection throughout the world.

Whitney Williams, University of Utah Office of Sustainability, office 801-581-7510,

Valoree Dowell, University of Utah Public Relations, office 801-585-6861, cell 801-403-3128,

Whitney Williams | Newswise Science News
Further information:

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Teamplay IT solution enables more efficient use of protocols

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Greater efficiency and potentially reduced costs with new MRI applications

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Modular syngo.plaza as a comprehensive solution – even for enterprise radiology

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>