University Operations is committed to reducing emissions wherever possible, generating our own renewable energy when financially feasible, zero emissions growth, and lastly, offsetting the remaining greenhouse gas emissions needed to achieve climate neutrality.
SCU is on course to install a smart microgrid, which ties its power source, transmission, distribution, and even consumption data to weather reports, thereby maximizing energy savings. The power source can be solar, wind, geothermal, essentially any kind of electricity generator. The smart microgrid can also deliver data in real time and measure carbon emissions. In the event of a major power outage, SCU would be able to remain operational, even during prolonged periods of time, and generate enough electricity to power nearby homes and businesses.
In the first phase of the project, SCU installed sub-meters into 14 buildings and integrated the smart microgrid’s onsite alternative energy sources, such as solar, fuel cells, and mico-turbines. The next phase will connect the entire campus to the campus microgrid. Once the launch of the smart microgrid is complete in December 2011, it’s estimated to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent and save the University about 20 percent in energy costs.
SCU is collaborating with Sustainable Silicon Valley, Cisco, and Serious Energy (formerly Valence Energy), which was founded by SCU alumni who competed in the 2007 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.
A 60-collector solar thermal system was installed on top of the Benson Memorial Center in 2010. The system is the largest rooftop concentrating solar thermal installation built to date in California and the largest solar thermal project yet completed under the California Solar Initiative-Thermal (CSI-T) program. The Chromasun MCT panels will produce an estimated 6,700 therms of energy annually and heat water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for Benson Memorial Center’s dining services. Heating water with solar energy rather than with natural gas will reduce the building’s water-heating bills by as much as 70 percent and offset 34 tons of CO2, equivalent to the total emissions produced annually by 6.6 automobiles. The system will help SCU reach its goal of becoming climate neutral by the end of 2015.
The collectors ware manufactured at a Chromasun facility in San Jose, CA. The workforce at this facility includes former New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) autoworkers that were re-trained as solar manufacturing experts after the NUMMI facility closed and put back to work building Chromasun modules.
The Santa Clara University campus is currently home to 1,100 kilowatts of photovoltaics.
1 megawatt solar array installation
One megawatt of solar panels are on the roofs of Leavey and Pat Malley, and as sun shade on the third level of the parking deck. This solar capacity will satisfy about 6% of the University's electrical energy needs. More significantly, it will support about 20% of our summer day time demand, significantly reducing stress on the grid and the resultant demand charges we pay in the summer. It also enhances long term stability to our energy budget. Read more.
50-kW photovoltaic system
In 2007, SCU installed of a 50-kW photovoltaic system on the roof of the Support Services Building. This system provides approximately 89,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the average year at SCU. This energy, enough to power 2.5 average houses, will reduce the University's carbon dioxide emissions by 40 tons - equivalent to taking 8 cars off the road for a year or planting 12 acres of trees.
Other photovoltaics on campus
In 2012 SCU installed a 25-kW photovoltaic system on top of the St. Clare Residence Hall.
In 2010 SCU installed a 7-kW photovoltaic system on top of the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center.
The 2009 Solar Decathlon house has 10.8 kW of photovoltaics on its rooftop.
The 2007 Solar Decathlon house has 7.3 kW of photovoltaics on its rooftop.
See how SCU's PV systems compare to that of other colleges and universities.
In 2012, SCU installed its first wind turbine on campus on top of the Facilities and Support Services building. Weighing 185 pounds and measuring 7 feet high and 6.5 feet wide, the unit is capable of producing 1,500 kWh per year, which is enough to power an average American household for about 49 days.
Green Power Program
Santa Clara University supports the generation of 30,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy through Santa Clara Green Power. This amount is equal to the annual output of nine wind turbines used for this program. This decision prevents the emission of over 21,545 tons of carbon dioxide each year. This has the emissions reduction impact of taking 4,119 cars off the road for one year.
For more information, please visit Santa Clara Green Power.
Read more about sustainable energy initiatives, featured in recent Sustainability Updates.