Sunny Days Ahead

This Google project has a sunny outlook.

One of Google's recent projects incorporates several of their most popular tools, including Google Maps and Google Earth. Project Sunroof was launched two years ago in limited areas, but through the use of these two imaging tools and 3D modeling, the project has recently expanded to all 50 states.

Matt Elliott of CNET reports on Google's Project Sunroof, a tool that provides users with an interactive map to see if solar panels are right for your home. Many people are interested in the concept of renewable resources and Project Sunroof has analyzed over 60 million buildings throughout the U.S. The results show that nearly 80 percent of these building get enough sunlight to benefit from the installation of solar panels on their roofs. There are still a number of areas that Google hasn't explored. Also, not every home is suited for solar power. There are a number of factors that help determine whether this is a viable option, including where you live, how much cloud cover your area has, and how much sunlight reaches your roof. Tree-shaded houses in northern areas won't benefit as much as sunny locations in the south and southwest areas of the country.

Supporting Web Links
Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. This article can be used as a jumping off point for various discussions, including renewable resources, Earth Day and environmentally-friendly technology, and the many facets of Google. Demo the Project Sunroof interactive map or discuss the Solar Roadways program with the class.
  2. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to take a different “green” topic – renewable resources, power management, going paperless, e-waste and recycling, etc. Each group should research their topic and create a presentation that provides general background information as well as information pertinent to your region and institution. Each group should also offer suggestions for ways to increase participation in these green initiatives.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to use the Project Sunroof map to compare and contrast several different locations (a minimum of 3-5 locations) and the impact solar panels might have on these locations. Students can choose several different locations in their own area or may choose to select various locations across the country. Students should write a brief report or create a presentation to share their findings with the class.

     

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