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David Olson in Roof Hatch

David Olson of Integrated Mechanical Systems climbs through the roof hatch alongside the new solar-powered water-heating system donated to the YWCA’s Teen Home by the Utah Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. (photo by Geoffrey McAllister, Deseret News)

Engineering association donates solar panels to YWCA’s Teen Home

By Jasen Lee, Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008 12:01 a.m. MDT;,5143,700236552,00.html

Salt Lake City teen moms are “in hot water,” thanks to a new environmentally friendly rooftop project: On Friday, a solar-powered domestic water-heating system was unveiled at the YWCA of Salt Lake City’s Teen Home.

The YWCA facility is a safe haven for up to 12 pregnant and parenting adolescent girls and their babies. The teenagers have been homeless or are in state custody.

The project was designed and installed free of charge by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. About 2,000 ASHRAE members are in Salt Lake City today through Wednesday for the society’s semiannual meeting.

With the YWCA project in Salt Lake, ASHRAE is launching a new program to provide technical and financial support for a sustainable project in each of the cities where its meetings take place.

The solar heating system will reduce the annual operating costs of the Salt Lake YWCA facility and decrease the environmental impact of its current heating system, said YWCA chief executive Anne Burkholder.

The project will allow the YWCA to utilize those monetary savings to further its mission of community service. “That helps us continue to serve the people who turn to us for help, and at the same time, it helps us help the planet,” she said.

The panels will also help the girls learn the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility, she said. “It helps them understand how precious our planet is, that even though we’re in a small place, they can have an impact.”

During the four-day ASHRAE conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, engineers plan to exchange ideas and information on heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration. The main focus of the conference is the design and operation of sustainable and green buildings, systems and equipment that provide energy efficiency, as well as safe, productive and healthy indoor environments.

The keynote speaker of the meeting was scheduled to be Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative, of which ASHRAE is a partner. On Friday, however, he notified ASHRAE that he would have to cancel, due to a recently sustained back injury.

Magaziner oversees the mission of applying the Clinton Foundation’s business-oriented approach to the fight against climate change in practical, measurable and significant ways, according to ASHRAE.

For more information on the ASHRAE conference, visit