The Catholic University of America

April 15, 2011

CUA Recognizes Student Solar Picnic Table Design and Announces Solar Energy System Expansion

  Back row, from left: Joseph Cochrane, Michael Doster, Lindsey Dickes, and Harry Warren, president of WGES. Front row, from left: Cory Estep, Monica Perez, John Lang, and CUA President John Garvey.

Under a blue sky in bright sunlight, President John Garvey recognized six students from The Catholic University of America (CUA) their innovative solar-powered picnic table that was recently installed on the patio outside the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

The table — equipped with outlets capable of charging laptops, cell phones, e-books and other electronic devices — was the winning design in a contest sponsored by the University. Students on the design team received scholarships provided by Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES).

The winning design team is made up of a graduate student in mechanical engineering, Joseph Cochrane of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania and five students in the CUA Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Sustainable Design programs. Lindsey Dickes of Baltimore, Maryland; Michael Doster of Wayne, New Jersey.; Cory Estep of Bradenton, Florida; John Lang of Ellicott City, Maryland; and Monica Perez of McLean, Virginia all contributed to this award-winning solar project.

CUA President Garvey also announced today the expansion of its solar photovoltaic (solar PV) system, which originally became operational in December 2009. The expansion will add 440 solar panels to the more than 1,000 panels already installed on four campus buildings. The expanded system will be one of the largest in the District of Columbia, and will now total 414 kilowatts and generate more than 500,000 kilowatt hours of power each year.

The solar PV expansion will be installed at no up-front cost to CUA and — like the original system — will be owned and operated by WGES. CUA has signed a 20-year agreement with WGES to purchase electricity generated by the solar panels at guaranteed prices, and the electricity will be used by the buildings where it is produced. Standard Solar Inc., of Rockville, Md., installed the original system and will install the new solar panels as well.

“Our Catholic faith calls us to be good stewards of the environment,” said Catholic University President John Garvey. “Today we are celebrating two forward thinking examples of how we are doing that. One – the installation of additional solar panels – is focused on making our University’s infrastructure more ‘green.’ The second is a collaborative teaching moment that has given our students the opportunity to apply what they learned in the classroom to actually building something that is environmentally friendly.”

The CUA student designers, Warren, and Garvey look over the solar-powered picnic table.

CUA currently offers engineering courses in photovoltaics, hybrid gas and electric vehicles, and wind energy technologies and master’s degrees in architectural sustainability and urban design.

The expansion of its solar PV system is the latest accomplishment in CUA’s program of environmental commitment. In 2002, CUA was the first university in the Washington area to purchase a portion of its electricity from regional wind power projects. In 2008, the University received an Award of Excellence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its recycling efforts. In January 2009, CUA opened the first new LEED-compliant student residence hall in Washington, D.C. Opus Hall has since been LEED certified.

“Catholic University’s leadership in advancing the use of renewable energy has clearly motivated others to do the same,” said Harry Warren, president of WGES. “As one of the very first large purchasers of wind power in the D.C. region, Catholic University can take great pride in the recent announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the District of Columbia is now the nation’s leading city for renewable energy use. As the first Washington, D.C. University to install a large scale solar power system, CUA serves an example to other area universities and colleges. Today, they compound this leadership example by announcing the expansion of this solar installation and recognizing these remarkable and talented students and their environmental ingenuity.”

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in Catholic University’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600; Keira Shein, WilkinsonShein Communications for Standard Solar, 410-363-9494, or Leah Gibbons, Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc., at 703-793-7565, 301-509-1508 or


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