Washington University in St. Louis has begun construction on a $3.5 million solar energy project that will add rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays to six university buildings.

The university says that when construction is complete later this year, the 5,100 solar panels will add 1.9 megawatts of solar-generating capacity to the university.

Combined with the university’s already installed 600 kilowatts of solar, the new total will be nearly 2.5 megawatts of solar power, making WashU one of the largest producers of on-site solar energy in the region.

“Not only will this installation project make us one of the largest consumers of on-site solar energy in the St. Louis area, but it will also enhance our strong institutional commitment to making our campus more sustainable,” says Chancellor-Elect Andrew Martin.

The installations started in mid-March and will include six locations: the Athletic Complex, North Campus, Taylor Avenue Buildings One and Two, the Environmental Health and Safety Building and 4480 Clayton.

As part of its sustainability strategic plan, the university is on track to reduce its campus greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, despite more than doubling in space over those years.

“This new project is ambitious and bold,” says Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer. “The clean, renewable power generated by these panels will help the university achieve its goal of further reducing carbon emissions, and continue to elevate important sustainability efforts on campus.”

The project has also given students an opportunity to gain firsthand exposure to the solar industry. The Office of Sustainability partnered with the Environmental Studies Program and Azimuth Energy to develop a new interdisciplinary program, the Renewable Energy Student Engagement Team.

Eighteen students from a range of disciplines have had the opportunity to learn about the business, policy and engineering aspects of the solar industry by using the new solar project as a case study.


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