Buildings Climate Change Energy & Emissions

Renewable Energy Team: Greening the East End and Beyond

As a part of the East End Transformation, the Office of Sustainability Renewable Energy team has been evaluating various ways the University can maintain its commitment to its Strategic Plan for Sustainable operations while continuing to expand and improve its facilities. The team has specifically been looking at implementing solar energy on some of the new East End buildings, as well as planning for electric vehicle charging capabilities in the new parking garage.

Solar PV

One of the major aspects of the WashU focus on operational sustainability includes working toward decreasing the university’s reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the university’s utilization of solar energy. Last spring, the team began evaluating options for including solar arrays on some of the East End buildings. This process included working with the campus Facilities team and architects to evaluate which buildings might be suitable for hosting a rooftop solar array. With this information, the team developed preliminary scoping layouts of rooftop solar arrays and financial models to evaluate the economic viability of these projects. The next step involves working closely with the project architects and engineers to create detailed layouts that maximize solar, minimize roof penetrations, and integrate with the beautiful architecture of the East End buildings.

Concurrently, the team is working to set up real-time solar energy production monitoring for approximately a dozen existing solar installations. This includes ensuring that the solar installations have data logging technologies to track production as well as the physical data cables to send the data to the cloud. The team has been working with the WashU Facilities team to add data cable to the sites that do not have it.

The development of an infrastructure for electric vehicles

As the market moves toward the use of electric vehicles (EVs) rather than gasoline-fueled vehicles, EV charging infrastructure will be a critical consideration in increasing adoption of these vehicles. In anticipation of this shift, the Renewable Energy student team has been evaluating various options for EV infrastructure on the East End in order to best meet future needs. The team has been evaluating the various types of chargers and projections for EV charging usage, and has been extrapolating from these findings to create a plan for EV infrastructure which will best serve the University’s commuting population.

Defining a new carbon accounting tool

Another key component of measuring our progress toward our 2020 sustainability goals is clear and accurate accounting for our carbon emissions. Currently, we are evaluating carbon accounting tools to see the environmental impacts of current and proposed future projects to ensure our goals in the plan are met. The carbon accounting tool will also be helpful as WashU seeks to expand the scope of its emissions inventory (accounting for more off-campus buildings, as well as more complex Scope 3 emissions), maximize positive impact from current and future projects (reducing emissions as much as possible), and reduce supply chain emissions (sourcing and procurement) from campus operations.

Overall, the carbon accounting tool will be critical moving forward, helping the university set and achieve ambitious but realistic goals as we strive to improve our sustainable operations across all university sectors.

This article was written by our Renewable Energy Student Associates Channing Hunter, Taylor Belvin and Sean Fallon.