Category Archives: Green Campuses

Editorial: UNL displays impressive success with sustainability

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Among the 11 Big Ten universities whose carbon dioxide emissions are publicly known, UNL ranks first by a wide margin with 182,600 metric tons in 2016. That’s nearly a third better than the University of Maryland at College Park, which recorded 239,800 metric tons over the same interval.

Plus, even as UNL has reported years of record enrollment, added research staff and constructed several new facilities, its energy usage has been nearly halved in the last two decades. The university provides living proof that investing in energy-saving techniques can pay for itself through decreased utility costs. As a result, UNL hasn’t operated its coal-fired power and heating plant to power campus for several years . . . Read the entire editorial here.

Related Reading
UNL inching toward setting greenhouse gas reduction goals, by Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star
No longer does UNL use a coal-fired power and heating plant built at 14th and W streets in 1930 (now the site of the City Campus utility plant), giving the university an advantage over the University of Iowa, University of Illinois and others within the Big Ten still generating electricity on their campuses and expanding their carbon footprint. UNL instead purchases 100 percent of its electricity to power lights and computers, charge cellphones and run other equipment through Lincoln Electric System, which in turn buys power from the Southwest Power Pool and Western Area Power Administration.

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

UNL inching toward setting greenhouse gas reduction goals

By Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star

No longer does UNL use a coal-fired power and heating plant built at 14th and W streets in 1930 (now the site of the City Campus utility plant), giving the university an advantage over the University of Iowa, University of Illinois and others within the Big Ten still generating electricity on their campuses and expanding their carbon footprint. UNL instead purchases 100 percent of its electricity to power lights and computers, charge cellphones and run other equipment through Lincoln Electric System, which in turn buys power from the Southwest Power Pool and Western Area Power Administration. Read the entire article here.

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Small as energy maker, solar farm generates big interest

By Mike Konz, The Kearney Hub

Mayor Stan Clouse said Kearney hopes its solar farm
enhances the city’s attraction among high-tech firms.

KEARNEY — Covering 53 acres in northeast Kearney and comprising 22,464 panels, the SoCore solar farm at the city of Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing is Nebraska’s largest. Rated at 5.7 megawatts, the solar array’s generating capacity is enough to power about 900 houses or supply 5 percent of Kearney’s energy load . . . The University of Nebraska at Kearney bought 52 percent of the shares — enough to provide about 25 percent of the campus’ electrical needs. Central Community College’s Kearney Center just went online with 350 shares. That’s 5 percent of the solar farm’s capacity and enough power to cover all of the electrical needs at CCC’s $23 million, ultra-energy efficient facility in southwest Kearney. Read more here.

Photo Credit: SoCore Energy

Information Links
Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Initiative
SunWise is a community solar program available in participating Nebraska Public Power District retail communities.

Another distinguishing feature of Kearney’s Solar Farm is that it is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Iowa university to install NEXTracker solar+storage power plant

By Chris Crowell, Solar Builder Magazine

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0178.JPG

Iowa-based Ideal Energy is constructing a 1.1 MW power plant at the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, using the NEXTracker NX Flow integrated solar-plus-storage system. The project will be built on University land and, when completed, it is projected to be one of the largest solar-plus-storage power plants in the state, producing enough energy to cover nearly a third of the University’s annual electricity usage. In addition to those savings, NX Flow will use peak-shaving to significantly reduce MUM’s utility bill during high-demand times. Read more here.

RELATED: Massachusetts’ first community solar plus storage project now operational,
by Chris Crowell

MORE ON SOLAR PLUS STORAGE 

ADDITIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

NEW REPORT

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the progress made by more than 900 public and private-sector organizations that are driving energy efficiency in the U.S. economy through their participation in the Better Buildings Initiative. Moreover, partners across the Better Buildings Initiative are sharing their innovative approaches and successful strategies to accelerate the adoption of energy efficient technologies and practices. The 2018 Better Buildings Progress Report released today highlights this progress in the commercial, industrial, residential and public sectors to improve energy productivity.

CARBON EMISSIONS / CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS

EV NEWS

Colleges & Universities Urged to Shift to Generating 100 Percent of Their Energy From Renewable Sources: Campaigns Underway at More than 65 Campuses

Environment America News Release

BOSTON, MA — Environment America and the Student PIRGs released a letter urging the higher education community to lead America’s transition to using clean, renewable energy sources. Thousands of students from across the country have also voiced their support for their campus to make a commitment to a clean energy transition. Environment America and the Student PIRGs are working with students on more than 65 campuses in 19 states, from coast to coast, to show broad support for 100 percent clean, renewable energy generation. More than 800 students have already participated in the campaign this semester. Continue reading here.

100 Percent Renewable Campuses Campaign

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST
Nebraska Colleges & Universities Leading on Sustainability & Climate Action

Higher Education and Solar Energy: A Partnership Whose Time Has Come

By Geoff Greenfield, Renewable Energy World

Many administrators are not aware of a critical development in deploying clean energy: the majority of modern campus solar projects are built with no capital outlay from the institution. The most popular way institutions are making the shift to clean energy is with solar projects financed by private investors seeking to earn a “clean return” developing and owning these modern power plants. Private investors are able to harvest tax credits that are unavailable to non-taxable institutions, and their investments are repaid by selling clean energy back to the campus over time. In return for “hosting” privately financed solar power plants on rooftops, fields or covered parking areas, colleges are able to purchase clean energy for less than they paid for conventional power. These long-term contracts offer an additional benefit as they replace the volatility and inflation of electricity prices with a predictable locked in rate for 20-30 years. Currently more than 800 colleges or universities across the country offset a portion of their energy costs with some sort of solar array. Read more here.

IN NEBRASKA

Central Community College’s $23M Kearney Center tops 2017 education news

By Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

KEARNEY — On Aug. 22, Central Community College began classes in its $23 million, 66,000-square-foot Kearney Center. The structure was completed without a bond issue using $10 million from a successful capital campaign and cash from CCC’s reserves. The new building didn’t tap taxpayers, and because of its design, the building someday won’t tap commercial power, as CCC leaders have deemed that the facility eventually will be energy self-sufficient. Click here to read the entire article, the third installment recapping top stories of 2017, as selected by Kearney Hub reporters and editors.

Photo: The skilled technology science wing of Central Community College’s new Kearney Center offers some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment to train students.
Credit: Kearney Hub

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

  • CCC recognized for going green, by Julie Blum, Columbus Telegram
    Visitors at the Columbus campus can see some of the efforts undertaken in recent years to reduce the carbon footprint there, such as hybrid cars, electric maintenance vehicles, a bike-sharing station, water bottle station, landscaping with native plants and recycling bins. Across other Central campuses, there are composting sites, bee colonies and solar panels, and the campus in Hastings [added] a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine.
  • Nebraska Colleges & Universities Leading on Sustainability & Climate Action

New solar panel carports could save MSU $10 million in electricity costs

By Honda Carter, State News

Each individual unit is comprised of 3–by–6 solar panels. There are approximately 40,000 panels that cover 5,000 parking spots and an overall area of about 45 acres of land, according to [physics professor and Office of the Executive Vice President Senior Consultant Wolfgang Bauer] These solar panels will save the university about $10 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years, according to Bauer, and those savings could be available for other things, including better instructional spaces or even paying for teaching assistants.  Read more here.

Photo: New solar panels are installed on Michigan State University’s campus over the parking lot at Hagadorn and Service Roads. MSU’s 13-megawatt solar carports project is  the largest in North America.

Michigan State University taps parking lots for renewable energy and big savings

Michigan Radio

MSU is covering parking spaces (5000 of them) with solar panels to provide shade, reduce emissions, and save money. Pictured is about 10% of the project during early construction in June.

Read more here.

Photo by Wolfgang Bauer

UNK will purchase more than half of the electricity from Nebraska’s largest solar farm in Kearney

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Operators of the state’s largest solar farm have yet to publicly market shares of the community solar project being built at Kearney’s technology park. But six months before Chicago-based SoCore Energy completes the project in Kearney, organizers have already landed a high-profile taker that will purchase more than half of the electricity generated by the $11 million project. The University of Nebraska at Kearney expects to get about 12 gigawatts of electricity a year from the 5.8-megawatt solar farm through its purchase of about 3,600 “shares” in the project. Continue reading.

Photo: Jon Watts, left, UNK’s vice chancellor for business and finance, with Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse. The solar farm is being built in Kearney. Credit: UNK Communications

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING