Solar project advances campus sustainability

Portrait of Vice Chancellor Latham
Solar canopy on a parking lot
Construction will start on a solar canopy—similiar to what's pictured here—on Friday at the East Remote parking lot.

Our campus will take a big step toward carbon neutrality next week when construction starts on a solar canopy on the East Remote parking lot that will generate up to 20 percent of our electrical demands.

This project—which we’re calling “Slugs Go Solar”—will also include an energy storage system. The solar array and the storage system will give us more than three million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year for at least two decades years, saving us a total of about $6 million on our energy bill.

Our 2017–2022 Campus Sustainability Plan calls on us to develop a plan to add four megawatts of solar photovoltaic to the campus—and this two-megawatt project gets us half way there. We continue to study additional opportunities to harness the sun’s energy to support our mission of education and research.

Construction will begin on Friday and is scheduled to go through December 2019. The work will be done in phases, which—unfortunately and unavoidably—will temporarily reduce the number of available parking spaces at East Remote throughout the next nine months.

No construction will take place during commencement and move-in weekends in order to maximize parking availability East Remote during these important and large events.

Down the line, we will install an energy storage system that will allow us to store 1.2 megawatts of energy to reduce peak demand and shift load to times, which optimizes our ability to attain cost efficiency in energy procurement.

Anticipating the impacts that could be created by this project, TAPS has added about 200 parking spaces just north of the East Remote lot and reduced the number of academic and annual R permits before this academic year began. TAPS also expanded its daily parking lot surveys to look for additional parking efficiencies. You can read more about their efforts to provide additional options during construction.

The collaboration—which includes our Sustainability Office, Transportation and Parking Services, and Physical Planning, Development, and Operations departments—underscores the campuswide commitment to sustainability. I want to thank everyone who has helped make this project a reality.