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Leeward Community College becomes first UH campus to run mostly on solar

  • COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
                                Leeward Community College is aiming to become a ‘net-zero’ campus.

    COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

    Leeward Community College is aiming to become a ‘net-zero’ campus.

Leeward Community College is now generating as much solar power as it uses, marking a milestone as the first University of Hawaii campus to reach its “net-zero” goal.

The campus is generating 97% of its energy through on-site photovoltaic systems, which include solar shade canopies and distributed energy storage, UH said, while reducing consumption through other energy efficiency measures.

A total of 3,579 PV modules installed on the campus are capable of generating 1.678 megawatts of power annually, the university said — enough to power 230 homes, and to offset greenhouse gas emissions equal to 4,642 barrels of oil a year.

Altogether, the solar power and other initiatives should save Leeward Community College about $269,000 in energy and operational costs for the first year, and $8.4 million over the project’s 20-year performance period.

“Our campus will be producing nearly 3 million kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy annually,” said Chancellor Carlos Peñaloza in a news release. “Combined with our energy-saving measures, we can proudly say we are energy independent. I am extremely proud of all the thoughtful work that was a part of this accomplishment. The project has helped to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable practices for our community.”

The “net-zero” project is a partnership between UH, Johnson Controls and Hawaiian Electric Industries subsidiary Pacific Current.

It also aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption at four other UH campuses — UH Maui College, Honolulu, Kapiolani, and Windward Community Colleges — by 70 to 98%. UH Maui College is on track to become virtually net-zero in the fall.

UH and the state Legislature established a collective goal for the university system to be “net-zero” by Jan. 1, 2035, meaning it would produce as much renewable energy as it consumes across its 10 campuses.

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