?Some of the technology sounds like the stuff of science fiction: a “daylight harvesting” system that adjusts the brightness of a room’s overhead lighting based on the amount of natural light coming in through the windows, and a computer program that allows you to track, in real time, just how much energy a solar panel is pulling in — a system so sensitive it even recognizes when a bird is sitting on a solar panel and blocking some of the light.?Although this may appear to be futuristic technology, it actually isn’t. The Newton-based business Kansas Electric actually is using this technology right now.?Tim Sweigart, who has owned Kansas Electric since 2007, said when he decided to construct a new building for his business, he designed it with the idea of working in as much “green,” energy-saving technology as possible.?“I have been very interested in energy conservation and alternative energy,” he said. “It’s just been a fascination of mine. I was very passionate about trying to include some of that in this new building.”?Sweigart said he first developed an interest in green technology while attending Hesston College in the 1970s.?Kansas Electric’s new building was completed earlier this year, and the business’s array of solar cells was installed in June.?The solar panels convert energy from the sun and use it to generate electricity. Sweigart is able to use a computer program to track in real time what each of the individual solar panels is producing. The program shows how production drops off on cloudy days or if the panels are too dusty. It’s sensitive enough to sense when someone’s standing in front of a panel or a bird is sitting on a panel.?“Every day I can come in and see how much energy I’m producing,” Sweigart said. “... (Solar power) helps reduce our electrical bill.”?Although it is common to install solar panels on the roof of a building, Sweigart chose to place the panels at ground level out in front of his business, so customers would be able to get a closer look at the technology before they decide whether they want to utilize it in their facility.?“They can go out there and see it and feel it,” he said.?Kansas Electric is looking to promote this technology for residential and commercial applications.A bright idea?The building’s indoor lighting system also is high-tech. The company uses a lighting system called “daylight harvesting” that senses natural light coming in from a window, and adjusts the level of artificial lighting accordingly.?“The brighter it is outside, the dimmer it is inside,” Sweigart said.?The lights also sense when there is no motion in the room and then switch off to conserve energy.?Other green technologies utilized by Kansas Electric include:?- Double insulation in the building to conserve energy.?- Geothermal heating and cooling units, which use coolness from the ground during the summer and warmth from the ground in the winter to help control the building’s temperature.?- Sweigart would like to use wind energy in the future but said he is waiting for the technology to progress a bit more.?Sweigart invites customers to visit the business to find out about green technology options, and he’s looking forward to evolving his business in the future.?“It’s kind of fun to see that you’re actually doing something to contribute to being green and being conscious of what’s going on in the environment,” he said.?For more information, call 283-4750 or visit www.kansas-electric.com. The business is at 1420 N.W. 36th St. in Newton.