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. That’s thanks to the newly installed CSU solar project on campus.

What Is the New CSU Solar Project?

CSU announced the completion of its on-site solar project on Aug. 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. It also comprises a vast array of solar panels covering 23 acres on the north side of CSU’s campus.

According to Craig Cason, CSU Pueblo’s associate vice president for Facilities and the solar project’s lead, “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. Because of the installation’s scale, the solar panel array generates excess energy. By doing so, the university can send energy back to the grid. 

The university made an official switch to solar power upon the announcement of the project’s completion. Now, all academic buildings run 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 your needed energy is generated within the range of your target area (such as your home) through renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro. 

Essentially, if you can 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 campuses and homes as well as entire neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and more.

[Related: Energy Independence Through Solar]

What Is the Greening Executive Order?

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 — the Greening Executive Order — embodies Colorado’s commitment to directives and goals reflecting sustainable, government-level operations. 

The mandate’s four goals include the following:

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions: Seeing at least a 10% reduction in 2022-2023 fiscal year (FY) greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2014-2015 FY levels, which making improvements in goals two through four can make possible. 
  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 renewable energy sources 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: Reducing 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 greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy management and renewable energy consumption. 

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

Acknowledgements Toward the University

Nate Manning, president of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls, 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 regarding responsible energy consumption and renewable alternative usage. 

“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.

President of CSU Timothy Mottet explained how controlling energy costs is the right thing to do. Mottet noted that the university can aid students by passing along money to make school more affordable. Two decades of energy savings will benefit 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. Call us at (800) 504-2337 or complete our online inquiry form to request a quote and begin your free consultation with a solar specialist. 


Featured image via Unsplash

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