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University celebrates 10 years of solar energy

This year, Colorado State University celebrates 10 years of solar energy. The University hosted an event at which CSU Energy Engineer Carol Dollard spoke about the history of the University’s use of solar energy.

According to a handout given at the event, the University is committed to reducing carbon emissions through sustainable practices. 

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In June 2009, the University installed their first system of solar panels on campus on the roof of the Engineering building. This specific system is visible from the Plaza on campus.

“When I walk past the engineering building, I see the solar panels on top and I feel proud,” said fourth year environmental engineering major Mariah Wang.  

Following this, in December 2009, through collaboration with many partners, Christman Field was built, according to the same handout. Christman Field covers 30-acres with more than 23,000 solar panels.  This system reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 million kilograms per year. It creates enough energy, 8.5 million kilowatt hours annually, to power one-third of Foothills Campus with clean energy.

The University has built many more solar energy systems on campus over the past 10 years. The locations of these systems include Christman Field (2009), the Engineering Building (2009), Academic Village (2009), the Behavioral Sciences Building (2010), Lake Street Parking Garage (2010), the Research Innovation Center (2010), The Cube at the Morgan Library (2012), Powerhouse Energy Campus (2013), Braiden Hall (2014), the Student Recreation Center (2015), Parmelee Hall (2015), University Center for the Arts (2015), Veterinary Teaching Hospital (2015) and Edwards Hall (2015).

“We had zero on-site renewables ten years ago, and now we have this huge array in a variety of places on rooftops (on campus) and out in the foothills,” Dollard said. “Solar has exploded in a lot of different ways on campus, and we are very excited about that.”

In 2017, the University signed the “Climate Reality Pledge.” This is a promise that by 2030 the University will be powered 100% renewable electricity.

The City of Fort Collins signed the same agreement, and Dollard said that she is excited that the whole community is headed towards 100% renewable electricity.

Dollard said, for the future of solar energy on campus, “greening the grid” is a huge checkmark on the list of things that need to be done.

“Electricity is half of the University’s carbon footprint. It is the single largest factor in our carbon footprint,” Dollard said. “We all need to make these changes relatively quickly.”

For the future, CSU hopes to meet their 2030 goal. Dollard said they are exploring additional solar panel systems as well as off-site wind power.  

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Kendall Constable can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Kendall_Consta.

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