New map tracks solar in Shepherdstown

You can now take a tour of solar sites in Shepherdstown from the comfort of your own home. Local resident and solar enthusiast Than Hitt used Google Maps to track homes and buildings with solar. Hitt created the database to showcase the community’s growing solar adoption.

“It’s very simple concept but it can be powerful,” Hitt said. “When people can see they’re part of something bigger than just their one project it builds excitement.”

So far, Hitt has tracked about a dozen sites. You can click on the sun icons for a picture of each system, in addition to the overhead view Google provides. In addition to its use as a way to build community, Hitt said it will be a tool for Sheperdstown’s planning commission. He said it will help them think about smart growth and would be a first step toward conducting an area-wide energy audit.

Hitt has a professional background in spatial and statistical modeling, but novices can easily create their own maps.

Hitt used the Google Map extension My Map. This allows you to drop place marks on mapped location. You can also upload pictures of the sites you’ve marked. Once you’ve completed your map, set the sharing preferences to public and you can share the map publicly.

Since Hitt’s map is public, he made sure to get permission from everyone who’s home is included in the map. He said meeting people and discussing their systems is a great way to build community with other solar supporters. If you have questions about the map and how to make your own you can contact Hitt via e-mail.