All universities need to be this forward-lookingIt's not clear if George Washington University is taking inspiration from a certain house of a certain color a few blocks away that recently re-installed solar panels after a 28 years absence, but it's great to see it, along with American University, sign a major long-term deal to get more than half of its power from the sun. What better way to show students the importance of something than actually practicing what you teach?
American University, George Washington University, and George Washington University Hospital (which is located on the GWU campus) are buying 52 megawatt of solar photovoltaic power from three new solar farms in North Carolina operated by Duke Energy. This will be the largest solar PV project east of the Mississippi River and it'll be made up of over 243,000 individual solar panels. Construction should be completed next year.
This is enough electricity to power 8,200 homes a year, and will remove from the atmosphere about 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to taking 12,500 cars off the road. That's enough power to meet 53% of the electricity needs of both GWU and American U., and about 1/3 of the needs at George Washington University Hospital.
Hopefully this is just a start and they eventually go to 100% green power!
Not only is this great for the environment, but the universities say that this makes economic sense. They're getting a better price than what they are paying for dirty energy, and they are getting a long-term fixed price, so if energy costs go up - and they think it will - they'll save even more, while being protected from fluctuations.
Let's hope that universities around the world not only keep teaching the concepts of sustainability, inventing new green technologies in their lab, and divesting their endowment funds form fossil fuels, but also keep going green in their day-to-day operations (renewable energy, zero waste, walkable and bikable campuses, electric vehicle charging stations, etc)