The Catholic University of America

Sept. 21, 2012

CUA to Dedicate D.C.'s Largest Solar Panel System


Solar panels being installed on Flather Hall in 2009.

At 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 21, The Catholic University of America (CUA) will dedicate the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system in the District of Columbia. It features more than 2,600 solar panels generating in excess of 830,000 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity per year, including a canopy of 714 panels over more than 70 parking spaces.

The University will celebrate this achievement with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the O’Boyle Hall parking lot, where the canopy is located. Representatives from the University, Washington Gas Energy Systems, Standard Solar, Inc., and the District of Columbia government will be in attendance. The ceremony will include a demonstration of how an electric car could be hooked up to the solar-powered charging station in the parking lot.

“The Catholic University of America is proud to once again partner with Washington Gas Energy Systems and Standard Solar on the installation of these solar panels,” says Cathy Wood, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer. “As a reflection of the University’s Catholic mission, we are committed to creating a sustainable campus and serving as an example of environmental stewardship.”

Along with the O’Boyle parking lot canopy, additional solar panels were installed this summer on the roofs of the Raymond A. DuFour Athletic Center, Pangborn Hall, and the Grounds Maintenance Complex. In 2009, installations were placed on the DuFour Center and Aquinas, Gibbons, and Flather halls. In the three years since the University began using solar power, it has nearly tripled the amount of clean energy it produces.

The solar panels were installed by Standard Solar of Rockville, Maryland, and the system is owned and operated by McLean, Virginia-based Washington Gas Energy Systems as part of a 20-year power purchasing agreement with CUA, signed in 2009.

"Standard Solar's work with Catholic University, helping it make tremendous strides toward energy independence, has been extremely rewarding," says Scott Wiater, Standard Solar President. "We applaud the efforts of the University's administration, faculty, staff, and student body for their pledge of sustainability."

Reducing its carbon footprint with solar power is only the latest step in Catholic University’s commitment to sustainability. The University’s efforts began in 2002 with the purchase of wind energy credits. In 2009, Opus Hall, the first new LEED-compliant student residence hall in Washington, D.C., was opened.

"We commend the leadership, faculty, and students of Catholic University of America for their impressive commitment to solar energy," says Sanjiv Mahan, Vice President of Business Development for Washington Gas Energy Systems. “This long-term academic and private sector partnership exemplifies how renewable energy can help a campus reduce its carbon footprint and engage students in the advancement of new technologies. We are honored to be their partner and help them meet their sustainability goals.”

Students also have played a role in the University’s green efforts. A team led by students at the School of Architecture and Planning was one of 20 worldwide chosen to compete in the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon.

The selection of Team Capitol D.C. Harvest, which also includes students from American and George Washington universities, marks the first time that Catholic University has been chosen to participate in the competition. It is also the first time that any University in Washington, D.C., has been tapped for the decathlon.

In 2010 and 2012, the University, Washington Gas Energy Systems, and Standard Solar challenged students to design a picnic table and a bus shelter, respectively, capable of using energy from the sun to create a power source. As a result of these competitions, a solar-powered picnic table designed by six graduate students was installed outside the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

Earlier this year, Garvey and the leaders of eight other Washington, D.C., higher education institutions pledged their commitment to an initiative by Mayor Vincent Gray — the first of its kind nationally — to make D.C. the most sustainable city in America.

Garvey signed Gray’s College and University Sustainability Pledge (CUSP), committing Catholic University to reduce its consumption of energy and water on campus, among other initiatives. In addition, as part of the University’s 15-year Master Plan, CUA is committed to reducing the number of cars carrying a single person to campus by 5 percent.

For more information on these sustainability efforts, visit Click here to view a video Catholic News Service produced about how CUA's sustainability efforts line up with Church teachings.



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