solar common

One of the solar power systems, located on the roof of the Pavilion, helps to power both the venue and the splash pad. (CBC)

Two unique buildings on the Halifax Common are up and running, harnessing the sun's energy to offset power costs.

The existing public washroom and the Halifax Pavilion were both outfitted with solar panels about six months ago as part of the city's Solar City Program to promote solar energy in Halifax.

"Instead of power being supplied to the washrooms and us paying for that, we can actually be generating power and putting it into the grid," said Stefan Tylak, officer for the Solar City Program.

The solar panels on the roof of the public washroom also help power the large fountain in the middle of the Common.

"It's ideal in terms of a solar resource. We've got no obstructions and it offered a pretty simple, straightforward installation as well," said Tylak. 

The other system, located on the roof of the Pavilion, helps power both the venue and the splash pad.

"At times like this when the sun is shining, we could easily be producing more energy than we're using," he said.

"Hence, our meter is going backwards and saving us money or actually generating a credit."

At current energy rates, Tylak expects the washroom generates somewhere around $500 worth of energy per year. That's far less than the $13,000 it cost to install the panels, but Tylak said it's worth it.

"Energy costs have been on the increase and most people would expect that to continue, so when we look over the life of the system, it's really attractive," he said.

Cost savings aren't the only benefit. Solar power is a renewable resource that helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

Tylak said the Halifax Regional Municipality has approved $420,000 to further develop solar power across the Halifax region. The city offers financing for solar water heaters in their homes through the Solar City Program.

Tylak hopes these solar-powered public buildings will encourage more people to go solar in other facilities.