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[Top 10] Which Campuses Take the Cake on Solar Energy?

A parking lot at ASU, the campus with the most installed solar, with canopies with panels.

10. University of Arizona (4,428 kW)
The University of Arizona in Tuscon has a number of major sustainability efforts underway on its campus. Starting with the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) in 2007, the university has implemented other initiatives and a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to set up Energy Frontier Centers (EFRC) which will bring together experts from the university, private sector, and national labs to develop better solar tech.

9. Butte College (4,616 kW)
Oroville, California’s Butte College has more than 25,000 solar panels and was the first college in the country to go “grid positive,” meaning it generates more electricity than it uses. The college started its solar endeavor in 2005 and is estimated to save up to $100 million over the course of 30 years.

8. Arizona Western College (5,105 kW)
Arizona Western’s solar installation is mainly for educational purposes, though the energy generated is certainly helpful. It’s used to help experiment with new solar tech and also covers 100% of the college’s energy needs. The college has a program for solar installers as well, the first class of which graduated in 2011.

7. California State University, Fullerton (5,400 kW)           
CSU Fullerton is working to go off the grid completely, and it’s two-thirds of the way there. With its 2012 solar installations, the university is offsetting more than 26.422 tons of greenhouse gas each year, which is equivalent to taking almost 5,181 cars off the road in the next 25 years.

6. Colorado State University (5,559 kW)
While its installations are relatively recent, Colorado State has had a nationally recognized PV program since the 1960s. It now houses the Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion, a Materials Engineering Lab focused on PV tech, and other initiatives that are looking to take the solar panel of today into the future.

5. United States Air Force Academy (6,000 kW)
The U.S. Air Force Academy’s 6 MW solar installation was completed in 2011 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project was completed by Sunpower and has a power purchasing agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities to provide power for 25 years.

4. West Hills Community College District (6,000 kW)
The 6 MW installation covers several of West Hills’ California campuses and is over 200 acres large. The power will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, though the campuses are using the farm as an educational tool in addition to a source of power. The district hopes to eliminate its energy bill to free up funds for other campus-related items.

3. Mount St. Mary’s University (17,400 kW)
Mount St. Mary’s solar farm is a project of Constellation Energy of Baltimore and is built on 100 acres of the college in Emmitsburg. The college purchases 1.2 MW of power from the farm. Once the installations PPA is up, the farm will likely be sold to the college.

2. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (17, 417 kW)
The solar systems at Rutgers have kept getting bigger. The university was once the leader in installed solar with a 32-acre solar canopy hanging over two parking lots on campus. The $40 million system will reduce the university’s dependence on energy.

1. Arizona State University (23,567 kW)
It’s been incremental, but ASU is the nation’s top higher-education institution with solar installed by quite a bit. It’s portfolio of solar installations is huge: It has 86 installations on four campuses and the ASU research park. The campus has numerous buildings that are LEED Silver certified, with more on the way. And as the university states, installing solar is “the right thing to do.”



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