Business and Finance.

Campus Solarization Update

Arizona State University (ASU), the largest university in the country, tackled ambitious goals that integrate sustainability practices into all aspects of university operations. One sustainability practices goal is the university’s on-site clean energy generation strategy – specifically, the “campus solarization” program. ASU generates more than 4.7 megawatts (MW) of solar energy (photovoltaic) on its Tempe campus and more than 4.6 MW at its West campus for a total of 9.3 MWs. On the Polytechnic campus, a 300-kilowatt (kW) ground mount solar project is in design, and a 90 kW rooftop solar project is in the works at the Downtown campus. Installations at the Downtown and Polytechnic campuses currently are on track to be complete by mid-2011. In addition, another 2.1 MW solar installation begins in mid-2011 in Parking Lot 59 on the Tempe campus that also will produce shaded parking for 810 spaces. By late 2011, it is anticipated that more than 13 MW of solar energy systems will be in operation.

Two of the largest systems currently are installed on the Tempe campus on the tops of two parking structures, and provide solar electrical energy and shade for parking. Panels on the Rural Road Parking Structure, 884 kW, are in a fixed position. Panels at the Apache Blvd Parking Structure, 880 kW, are on single-access trackers that stow in a flat position when the sun is too far on either horizon, or when the wind sensors installed on the structures register winds over 45 miles per hour. While there were many challenges to retrofit existing structures, the benefits have been significant. The installations generate power and provide shade to cars parked on what previously was an exposed and hot rooftop. Another configuration benefit is a reduced contribution to the urban heat island effect.

The West campus has a ground mount, single-axis tracking solar field that produces approximately 2 MW of solar energy for the campus. Solar canopies that produce an additional 2.6 MW of solar energy now shade parking lot’s 1, 2, and 3. The two West campus solar installations produce enough solar electrical power to sustain the West campus during daylight hours.

The vast majority of these campus solarization systems were installed using qualified management service agreements. The agreement parameters stipulate that a solar developer installs, owns, operates, and manages the systems and takes advantage of solar tax credits and utility company incentives. ASU pays for the solar energy produced at a negotiated fixed or adjustable rate for a minimum of 15 years.

ASU’s campus solarization effort, led by the Facilities Development and Management department is part of the university-wide sustainability vision. ASU recognizes that promoting sustainability begins internally with its own business practices and university policy. ASU’s sustainability initiatives, spearheaded by the Global Institute of Sustainability, are advanced by the efforts of people and departments from across the University; leading sustainable practices are addressed and implemented in the areas of energy, water, buildings and grounds, carbon neutrality, food services, transportation, waste and recycling, and, purchasing and policies.  For more information visit

About Arizona State University (ASU):

ASU is a New American University, promoting excellence in its research and among its students and faculty, increasing access to its educational resources and working with communities to positively impact social and economic development.

Further, ASU is a public institution where sustainability is a fundamental precept underlying its teaching, learning, research, and business missions; it is a place where knowledge informs decision-making, research and study transcend academic disciplines, students learn from the world around them, and local solutions have a global impact.