Solar powers McKinley’s memory

Aerial photo of the McKinley Presidential Library encompassing its solar installation and memorial to President McKinley.

The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton is dedicated to preserving the memory of President McKinley. It houses his papers and other items of historical importance. It also hosts the McKinley Memorial, a monument to the president’s memory. The library honors McKinley in another way as well, with solar panels.

“McKinley was forward thinking,” said Lynette Reiner, the museum’s Science Director. “He would have definitely loved this, I think.”

The museum installed a 10 kW system in 2012. In addition to solar, the museum is also home to a wind turbine, a geothermal system, and a specialized high-efficiency roof. The museum raised funds for these projects as part of a capital improvement campaign. Reiner said the museum is seeking additional grant funding to increase the size of their system.

These energy improvements do more than just provide electricity. They also serve an educational purpose. Reiner uses a tracking system called Enlighten to monitor the output of the panels. This is displayed to the public so they can see how the system performs.

Visitors to the museum can do much more than learn about President McKinley. The museum also hosts a science center and a planetarium. The Keeler Center hosts a rotating series of exhibits. It is hosting an exhibit about Frank Lloyd Wright through the end of the month. In May, a new exhibit about the history of hats will take its place.

Due to the building’s age, the museum is limited in what it can do to make it more energy efficient without having to do a major reconstruction. “One of our goals is conservation,” Reiner said. “We’re doing everything we can do physically with the building to lessen our carbon footprint. We don’t want to preach we want to show we can do it.”

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