Beginning this summer, the University of Denver will install more than 7,000 solar panels across 18 DU buildings, including two new buildings opening in 2020, the Dimond Family Residential Village and Pioneer Career Achievement Center. The panels will account for 7-8% of DU’s energy consumption, surpassing the goal of producing 5% of campus electricity on site through renewable energy.
“This is a crucial step for the University in reaching our sustainability goals,” says Chad King, director of sustainability. “Through this project alone, the campus carbon footprint will be reduced by 3-4%.”
Late last year, DU signed a contract with Pivot Energy to install approximately 2MW of rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays.
“We are thrilled to work with the University of Denver to assist them in achieving their sustainability goals,” says Rick Hunter, CEO of Pivot Energy. “The University’s solar installation will not only benefit everyone on campus, but the entire Denver community.”
The installation of solar panels on DU buildings is a direct output from conversations held in late 2016 and early 2017 regarding the request for the University to divest from fossil fuels. While the Board determined that divestment was not an effective strategy for addressing climate change and promoting sustainability, members did agree that the University would make substantive investments to increase the University’s efforts around sustainability.
As part of DU’s commitment to pioneering sustainability while keeping transparency and integrity at its core, DU will be one of the only academic institutions of its size to retain 100% ownership of the renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by the solar panels over the life of the system. Owning these RECs from the onsite system allows DU to claim legal ownership of the environmental, social and other non-power benefits of solar power on campus.
“Ownership of the RECs was a primary goal from the very beginning of this program,” says James Rosner, associate vice chancellor of facilities management and planning. “DU wanted to authentically and honestly show the direct reduction of CO2 emissions from the electricity generated on the rooftops of buildings on campus.”
Installation of the systems will continue through the end of 2019.