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Catawba's Landmark Solar Project Uncommon

December 9, 2015

Category: Environmental Science

solarpanels.pngCatawba College's landmark solar installation is garnering attention for a number of reasons. One is that it is mounted only on existing rooftops and parking lots.

That is uncommon, according to Mike Nicklaus, president of Innovative Design, the project's consultant and facilitator. More often, the projects are installed on large field areas. "Catawba's project is significant because it doesn't take up additional land resources," he says.

In addition, the eight new solar electric systems, which provide nearly one megawatt of solar electricity for the campus, produce more than all the other colleges and universities in North Carolina combined.

Catawba President Brien Lewis notes that the installation is a major undertaking with significant outcomes. "It is a giant step forward for our efforts on sustainability in general and to the energy reductions reflected in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that Catawba signed in 2007," he says.

The installation, which includes solar electric systems, solar water heating systems, campus-wide water fixture replacements and extra insulation in the roofs, is projected to save the college nearly $5 million over the next 20 years and more than $11 million over 30 years.

It will also reduce annual carbon emissions by nearly 1,050 metric tons. That is the equivalent of taking 193 vehicles off the road each year.

"This a shining example of the great things that can be accomplished when our trustees, administration and others come together to both reduce our energy consumption and lower our carbon footprint," says Center Executive Director John Wear.

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