Cleaning up campus: Solar success university-wide

A historically progressive campus known as a leader in climate and energy research, the University of Colorado Boulder is always looking for new ways to minimize its footprint.

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November 19, 2014 |
UC Boulder, Coors Event Center  290.44 kW. Photo: Panasonic Eco Solutions

A historically progressive campus known as a leader in climate and energy research, the University of Colorado Boulder is always looking for new ways to minimize its footprint. Former Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson addressed this challenge head on, pledging to power the campus with green energy to reduce energy costs and help develop the campus into a carbon-neutral facility. 

Home to thousands of students, the University had to address crucial issues including timing and location. It was critical that the process of integrating renewable energy on campus would not detract from scenic community spaces or delay the opening of key facilities. 

To overcome these challenges and accomplish its goals, CU-Boulder joined forces with Panasonic Eco Solutions to facilitate two solar projects that would help sustainably power the University for years to come.  

Research Park Installation

In the winter of 2013, Panasonic designed and installed a 498 kW solar module arrangement, support structures, and performance monitoring system to provide clean energy power generation to both research facilities and surrounding buildings on CU-Boulder’s campus.  

The module arrangement’s location in a high-traffic, central area played a huge role during the planning process, requiring consideration of the campus’ aesthetic beauty. In light of this, the installation was constructed using underground horizontal boring machines that would not disturb the surrounding landscape. 

With the panels in place, this installation is capable of generating 774,690 kW hours per year, equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 68 American homes. The solution has doubled the University’s solar power production, reducing its carbon emissions by an estimated 547 metric tons per year.

Coors Event Center

Building on the success of the Research Park installation, CU-Boulder and Panasonic partnered again in 2014 on a 290.44 kW system at the Coors Events Center.

The overall layout and design of this new installation involved intricate blending of a ground-level design with planned landscaping renovations. Care and attention to the conduit routing, equipment locations, and other building aesthetic impacts to match existing conditions were all considered. In addition, the roof consisted of three different primary surfaces, demanding extra attention in the panel selection and placement process. 

Timing was especially of the essence. As a highly utilized campus facility, scheduling of general construction and specialty events took careful coordination.  For example, craning material to the roof during only a few days while the building was empty, as well as completing construction on a compressed six week summer schedule in advance of the start of the academic year, when the University would again need full access to the building. 

Conquering these challenges, the installation was a success and the doors of the Coors Event Center opened to the student body without a hitch, powering the facility with an additional 400,000 kWh per year.

Sustainable solutions – A team effort

To successfully complete the installations in a timely and efficient manner involved a committed team of talented individuals. Partnering with Panasonic, the University was able to attain clean power with no upfront cost and ongoing expenditures less than their current power costs. 

With these top of the line solar solutions in place, the University of Colorado Boulder is reducing its energy costs and honoring their commitment to a greener future. 

For more, contact: 
Panasonic Eco Solutions

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