GW Expands Renewable Energy Commitment with New On-Campus Solar Panels

Solar panels installed on roofs of five buildings on the Foggy Bottom campus.

Solar panels on GW buildings in Foggy Bottom. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Newly-installed solar panels sit atop the Smith Center. (William Atkins/GW Today)
May 20, 2020

George Washington University is providing rooftop space on five on-campus buildings for solar photovoltaic panels that will increase solar electricity in Washington, D.C.

Solar panels have been installed on the rooftops of Funger and Duquès halls, the Charles E. Smith Center, Monroe Hall and Hall of Government, Lisner Auditorium and the Media and Public Affairs Building.

The panels are designed to have a capacity of 497 kWAC, with the clean energy generated by the system reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing roughly 90 cars from the road each year they operate.

The project is part of a larger university commitment to reduce its carbon footprint through energy efficiency initiatives and clean energy purchases. Specifically, this project will increase renewable energy production on campus and reduce electricity expenses at GW.

“This solar project showcases the opportunity to use available rooftops for renewable energy in our nation’s capital,” said Meghan Chapple, director of the GW Office of Sustainability. “Even in this time of a global health crisis, GW is demonstrating leadership to address the pressing issue of climate change.”

The new panels will contribute to the university’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2040. Other renewable energy projects at GW include:

  • Capital Partners Solar Project with Duke Energy Renewables, which began in 2015 and provides GW with half of its electricity from three solar farms in North Carolina.
  • Solar thermal systems on the Foggy Bottom campus that heat water in  residence halls.
  • A solar walk—a small photovoltaic array over a walkway--on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. 

Neighborhood Solar Equity owns the solar panel system on GW’s rooftops and is an affiliate of Blue Ocean Venture Partners LLC. Root + Branch, an organization focused on renewable energy and community development, developed the project. New Columbia Solar, a D.C.-based solar energy company, financed the project, as did the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment’s “Solar for All” Innovation and Expansion Grant. NCS now owns and will operate the Neighborhood Solar Equity systems for the next 20 years.

"In a city that is mostly built out, we have few opportunities for generating green energy," Tommy Wells, director of the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment said. "GW is proving to be a leader showing what is possible.

 

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