University makes major solar commitment

Washington University in St. Louis is moving forward with a bold and impactful plan to increase solar output on all campuses by 1,150 percent over current levels by this fall. The project demonstrates the university’s commitment to sustainable operations and to reducing its environmental impact in the St. Louis region and beyond.

This spring and early summer, the university will add a total of 379 kilowatts (kw) of solar on university-owned property throughout the region. Prior to this installation, the university had 33 kw that were installed as demonstration projects.

“These solar projects represent Washington University’s first major investment in renewable energy,” said Phil Valko, director of sustainability. “The investment will pay off by producing enough emission-free energy to power the electrical usage of 53 average U.S. homes, at a savings of $190,000 over 10 years.”

Based on the carbon intensity of grid electricity in Missouri, which is among the highest in the U.S., this will reduce the university’s output the equivalent of 385 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“As a university community, we are making great strides in being better stewards of our resources,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration. “Last year, we committed to invest $30 million over seven years to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 22 percent by 2020. This investment in solar energy is among a series of projects that will help us further reduce our carbon footprint and reduce operating costs.”

Two WUSTL seniors, Rachel Goldstein and Tyler Loucky, were instrumental in helping to identify off-campus sites that would be feasible for photovoltaic rooftop systems.

Read more in the WUSTL Newsroom.