A Space to Explore Solar Power

On the edge of Gardner Arboretum is a new outdoor hub for students to study, relax and see renewable energy at work.

At SolarSpace, students can charge electronics with solar power while also enjoying a shaded view of the Arboretum. Created by the NC State Stewards student leadership program with funding from the NC State Sustainability Fund, the new outdoor space is nearly two years in the making. 

“The goal of Solarspace was to create an interactive space with a focus on renewable energy,” said student Anthony Medeiros, who is one of the NC State Stewards that worked on the project. “We love seeing students using the space and hearing positive feedback. It’s exciting to envision and provide a great outdoor space for studying, meeting friends or recharging for the rest of the day.” 

The new space features reused materials, such as wood repurposed from other campus projects, solar panels donated by SolarPack student organization, and the original brick columns of an existing arbor. The installation safely hosts 8 people and has an operating capacity of 800 watts.

The Stewards wanted SolarSpace to be a place made for students, by students, so they teamed up with the College of Design to host a student design competition for the space. Once the winning design was selected, the Stewards partnered with the Office of University Architect, the Facilities Division and the Sustainability Office to complete the project.

“Seeing how quickly SolarSpace has integrated into a popular part of campus makes me believe that NC State will be quick to implement more green infrastructure,” said Tana Haris, who is also an NC State Steward.

SolarSpace is one of several Steward-led installations of renewable energy on campus, including the solar bus stop on Dan Allen and solar umbrellas outside Tucker and Owen Residence Halls.

With SolarSpace now complete, the Stewards are already working on other projects, including a potential expansion of green spaces at Talley Student Union. The NC State Stewards and its SolarSpace project partners are excited to invite the campus community to engage with renewable energy and enjoy this space.