New Solar Project Brings CSU Pueblo to Net Zero Efficiency

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New Solar Project Brings CSU Pueblo to Net Zero Efficiency

Colorado State University (CSU) in Pueblo is the first university in the state to reach net zero energy thanks to the newly installed CSU solar project on campus.

What Is the New CSU Solar Project?

CSU announced the completion of their on-site solar project on August 19, 2021 in partnership with Johnson Controls, Capital Dynamics, and Black Hills Energy. The project involves a power purchase agreement with Johnson Controls over a 25-year period, and comprises a vast array of solar panels covering 23 acres on the north side of CSU’s campus.

According to CSU Pueblo’s Associate Vice President for Facilities and the solar project’s lead, Craig Cason, “We are proud to have partnered with Johnson Controls and Capital Dynamics, with support from Black Hills Energy, to develop a project that includes the installation of a photovoltaic system using solar panels and a rechargeable battery system.” 

Construction began in February of 2019 with a plan to generate more energy than the campus needs. Due to the scale of the installation, the solar panel array generates excess energy, enabling the university to send energy back into the grid. 

The university made an official switch to solar power upon the announcement of the project’s completion, with all academic buildings running entirely on renewable energy.

[Related: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Colorado?]

What Does Net Zero Efficiency Mean?

Net zero efficiency, or net zero energy, refers to the concept of energy conservation and on-site renewable energy generation. Obtaining net zero energy standards means all of your needed energy is generated within the range of your target area (such as on your home property) through renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power. 

Essentially, if you’re able to generate 100% of your building’s or community’s energy needs, then you’ve reached net zero energy efficiency. 

You can apply this concept to a range of areas, including university campuses and your home as well as an entire neighborhood, city, state, country, and more.

[Related: Energy Independence Through Solar]

What Is the Greening Executive Order?

The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, enforced a mandate for the state to move toward energy efficiency by 2040. But at this point, the CSU solar project was already in the works. 

The mandate is referred to as the Greening Executive Order and embodies Colorado’s commitment to directives and goals reflecting sustainable, government-level operations. 

The mandate’s four goals include:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Seeing at least a 10% reduction in 2022-2023 fiscal year (FY) greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to 2014-2015 FY levels, which is possible by making improvements in goals two through four. 
  2. Energy Management: Reducing energy consumption by at least 15% per square foot by 2022-2023 FY, and using 2014-2015 FY energy levels as a baseline for improvement.
  3. Renewable Energy: Increasing renewable electricity consumption or purchase by at least 5% by the end of 2022-2023 FY. Acceptable sources of renewable energy include the following: 
    • State-owned systems 
    • Power purchase agreements
    • Solar garden subscriptions
    • Utility purchase programs
    • Installations developed in cooperation with a utility agreement
    • Leased rooftop solar systems 
  4. Fleet Management: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 7.5% for special use vehicles by the end of 2022-2023 FY.

The CSU solar project exceeded three of the four goals under the Greening Executive Order, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, energy management, and renewable energy consumption. 

[Related: Going Solar Collectively: Guide to Community Solar Projects]

Acknowledgements Toward the University

President of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls, Nate Manning, stated in the announcement, “To become the first campus in Colorado to reach net zero efficiency is a remarkable achievement and we commend the University’s leadership for its vision and determination to reach this milestone.” 

CSU Pueblo has become a leader in the higher education arena when it comes to responsible energy consumption and using renewable alternatives. 

“This achievement is a beacon of what we can accomplish together. We are proud to have partnered with CSU Pueblo for more than 20 years and, working alongside Capital Dynamics and Black Hills Energy, create sustainable, energy efficient and healthy environments at the University and across Pueblo,” says Manning.

The President of CSU, Timothy Mottet, explained how controlling energy costs is the right thing to do, and allows the university to aid students by passing along money to make school more affordable. Two decades of energy savings will have a positive impact on the environment, surrounding communities, and students and create an example for universities nationwide.

[Related: Eco-Friendly Businesses in Colorado to Support]

Contact Freedom Solar to Begin Harnessing Solar Energy

If you’re interested in acquiring SunPower solar panels for your school or university, contact Freedom Solar to speak with one of our solar specialists. Call us at +1 800 (504)-2337 or complete our online inquiry form to request a quote and begin your free consultation. 


Featured image via Unsplash

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