Category Archives: Green Campuses

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.


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


  • 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


University of Minnesota makes long-term commitment to clean energy

By Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

By next year more than 20 percent of the electricity needs of the University of Minnesota will be powered by renewable energy. Over the course of the last several months, the university has inked a 10-year subscription to a new green tariff program developed by Xcel Energy. It joins a list of clean energy investments that includes a much bigger deal to purchase power from four community solar gardens for a combined total of 24.5 megawatts (MW) and construction on its own 2.25-MW solar program. Continue reading.

Image: Solar array on the University of Minnesota campus.



It’s a wrap: Best moments from the first #AmericanWindWeek

Public invited to tour new Kearney Center at Central Community College on Thursday

CCC’s new Kearney Center a real gem
Kearney Hub Opinion

The 11 a.m. ribbon cutting will be followed by tours through 8 p.m. [New facilities in Kearney] include structures and installations such as the Health Science Education Complex at UNK, the 400,000-square-foot distribution center at Baldwin Filters, and SoCore’s 53-acre solar array that will be Nebraska’s largest when it goes online in January. Read more here.

Central Community College Address1215 30th Avenue, Kearney, Nebraska 68845


Solar Energy Community Forum

Wisconsin’s Northland College Divests From Fossil Fuels

By Elizabeth McMahon, Wisconsin Public Radio

Around $823,000 of the college’s $28 million endowment is invested in fossil fuel companies, but the college plans to phase out that investment over the next five years. Read the complete story here.

Photo Credit: Northland College


Reenergizing state’s oldest campus

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD News

“We wanted to highlight our partnership with OPPD and show how we can work together.” – Kathy Carroll, vice president of Administration and Finance

The college has updated its electrical system over the last three years . . . Buildings on campus are making the switch to LED lighting, and geothermal cooling and heating was installed in the Jindra Fine Arts building in 2003 and the T.J. Majors building in 2016. Delzell Hall and the Theatre are under renovation and geothermal installations are part of that process. The college recently installed energy metering on their electricity, gas, steam and chilled water services to benchmark usage and determine how to maximize efficiency. So far, these efficiency efforts have resulted in more than $25,000 in rebates from OPPD. Read more here.

Student power: Solar panels to provide energy for first time on campus building

University of Wisconsin-Stout News Bureau, Editor’s Pick, Dunn County News

Driven by students’ perseverance to build on campus sustainability, University of Wisconsin-Stout will tap the sun to partially power a campus building. A proposal to install 36 solar panels on top of Merle M. Price Commons recently was approved by the Stout Student Association, the university’s student government council. Since receiving state approval, wheels are in motion for the university’s first solar panel investments using $66,280 of student Green Fee funds. All students pay the annual fee for campus sustainability-related projects . . . The project aligns with an earlier resolution that SSA passed stating its support for UW-Stout’s Seize the Grid Campaign, led by students who want the campus to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Read more here.

Photo by Next Step Energy of Eau Claire

Seize the Grid Campaign – A National Sierra Club Student Coalition Initiative


  • University of Iowa to be carbon free by 2025, Scarlet and Black. The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, or ACUPCC, has been joined by over 650 schools that commit to “measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions, take immediate actions to reduce them, and develop and implement a plan to go climate neutral,” according to an ACUPCC statement.
  • The Climate Leadership Commitments: Second Nature Website
  • Second Nature Webinar: Expanding Access to Renewable Energy – Customizing for Higher Education, March 22, 2017 – 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Register here
  • Second Nature Archived Webinars, including How to Develop a Carbon Credit Project for your College or University.