Shenandoah University launches largest rooftop installation in Virginia higher ed

shenandoah universityShenandoah University now boasts the largest rooftop solar power system of any Virginia college or university.

Through a partnership with the solar power company Secure Futures, of Staunton, Virginia, a total of 1,337 solar panels are spread across three buildings: the Alson H. Smith, Jr. Library (126 panels at 2,580 square feet), the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre (229 panels at 4,689 square feet), and the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center (982 panels at 20,106 square feet).

“We are proud to highlight Shenandoah University’s belief in and dedication to environmental stewardship,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. “With this installation, Shenandoah demonstrates not only the power of solar energy, but also the power of people working together to create a better tomorrow.”

Shenandoah’s solar panels have the capacity to produce around 500 kilowatts of electricity. Annual output of electricity will be approximately 675,000 kilowatt hours.

Each year, the solar power generated at Shenandoah will be equivalent to the amount of carbon in 258 tons of coal burned, the electricity use of 82 homes, and the consumption of more than 53,000 gallons of gasoline.

Through the use of this solar project, the university is projected to save a total of $3.1 million in avoided costs for electricity from producing its own solar power over the 35-year lifespan of the equipment. Net savings to the university on electricity (after all costs are taken out) are projected to total more than $1.5 million over the same period.

The project is funded in part through Virginia’s first solar crowdfunding campaign led by Secure Futures.

“On-campus solar energy at Shenandoah University is being funded in part through Virginia’s first solar crowdfunding campaign,” said Tony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures. “Through this innovative program, members of the community are able to invest in the development of solar projects at five different non-profit institutions around Virginia, starting with Shenandoah University.”

Over the years, Shenandoah University has established several sustainability initiatives, including creating a toner cartridge recycling program; using low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency HVAC equipment and building materials with recycled content; planting trees and protecting natural areas; implementing natural light in buildings; and reducing water and energy usage as well as food waste through trayless dining.

Other projects include a student group repurposing unused food from Allen Dining Hall to give back to the Winchester community, and a composting project that collected just over 155 pounds of compost from the Village apartments for the fall 2018 semester.

For the third year in a row, the university has also celebrated its name on “The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges.”

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