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FSU Tag Line

FSU Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF)

What is SERF?

SERF is a completely off-grid building constructed at Frostburg State University The building houses FSU Renewable Energy Center, where a wide variety of renewable energy research projects and instructional classes are conducted by FSU faculty and students. In addition SERF is a designed as a demonstration and test site for technologies that allow buildings to be separate from the power grid   


SERF generates its own electricity by wind power and sunlight. Large battery bank stores backup energy to supply the building at least for a week when neither sunlight or wind is unavailable or insufficient. The building is heated mainly by natural sunlight and a solar thermal collector array. 6,000 gallon water heated by a solar collector array is stored in two insulated tanks  and circulated in the closed loop radiant floor system for space heating. Solar heating provides also domestic hot water stored in a separate tank. After all energy need of the building is supplied and batteries are completely charged, excess electricity will be used to produce hydrogen to be stored in tanks as a long-term backup energy. 

The SERF building was constructed at FSU thanks to two federal fundings received with assistance of Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R - 6th district of Maryland) in 2008 and 2009. 

Purposes of SERF

Conduct research, education, and outreach activities on renewable and clean energy applications

  • A demonstration example of self-sufficient, off-grid building for individuals such as homeowners, farmers, or entrepreneurs who seek energy security in Western Maryland or similar geographic locations
  • Test center and showcase for renewable energy products

Design Features

  • Approximately 6,300 square feet usable area
  • Energy efficient, LEED certified green building
  • independent from the electric utility (100% off-grid);
  • Supplied completely by wind and solar energy
  • Passive solar heating and lighting
  • Solar thermal system for water and space heating
  • Short-term energy storage in a battery bank
  • Long-term energy stored in hydrogen tanks and backed up by PEM fuel cells
  • Thermal energy stored in hot water tanks, radiant floor, and air tight walls
  • Energy Recovery System to pre-condition incoming air for energy saving
  • Computer controlled energy management system for supply and us