U-Md. goes green with solar panels
My colleague Darryl Fears has passed along the following report:
by Darryl Fears
The University of Maryland, College Park announced Monday that it is preparing to install more than 2,500 solar panels on a building near the main campus to reduce the school's carbon footprint.
The solar power system is expected to produce 792 megawatt hours of electricity each year after its installation by Standard Solar Inc. of Rockville at the Severn building, about a mile from campus on university-owned land.
School officials said the clean energy will reduce the school's carbon footprint by 600 tons per year, the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 64,000 gallons of gasoline per year.
"It's a big step," said Scott Lupin, director of the university's Office of Campus Sustainability. "It's the first large campus renewable energy projects."
The Severn building, formerly a Washington Post printing plant, will become a multi-purpose facility that will house offices and trade shops that support the university's electric and plumbing works.
The offices and shops currently sit on 40 acres of land slated for redevelopment into student housing, retail, entertainment and a hotel. The solar panel installation will be partly funded with a $630,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration Project Sunburst Initiative , which supports renewable energy projects on public buildings. Washington Gas Energy Services, which financed the remainder of the $2.6 million project, will operate the solar plant and its power to the university.
Maryland is one of about 700 schools that signed an American College & University President's Climate Committment in May 2007. As part of an action issued two years later, the university has a goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.
"The University is committed to addressing the significant challenges of this generation, including environmental sustainability, climate change, and renewable energy", said Ann Wylie, Vice President of Administrative Affairs and Chair of the University
Sustainability Council. "The use of solar energy - a clean energy source that produces no greenhouse gases - will move us another step closer to achieving our vision for a greener campus embodied in the university's Strategic Plan."
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