The University of Maryland, College Park was awarded a grant by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) as part of their Project Sunburst Initiative that will allow them to install one of the largest rooftop solar power systems in the state. The grant will only fund part of the overall project, the rest of which will be contributed by Washington Gas Energy Service (WGES). Under the agreement UMD will purchase the power from WGES under a twenty year contract.
The more than 2,600 solar panels of the 631 kilowatt system will be installed by Standard Solar of Rockville, and are estimated to produce 792 megawatt hours of electricity each year. The offset of greenhouse gas emissions will factor into the university’s goal to someday become carbon neutral, a climate commitment they made in 2007 along with over six hundred other colleges across the country. The offsets will also be a boost to MEA’s plans to acquire 20% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2022.
UMD is already one of highest rated universities in terms of green technology in the nation, scoring an A- on the College Sustainability Report Card and making them one of the leaders in the move to lower environmental impact. It may come as no surprise that Ivy League and private universities score higher than most state colleges, most likely because those schools receive the largest endowments for such energy upgrades.
As the centers of research, knowledge, and progression, colleges should be one of the biggest supporters of sustainable advancement. Being able to test, onsite, new technology that can be shared with a large scope of organizations in the public and private sector is only one of the many reasons investing in green upgrades across American campuses.