Here Comes the Sun: Pace plans on bringing solar power to campus

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An envision of one solar panel section next to Choate House. (photo/Ryan McEnany)

Leanna Ward, Contributing Writer

Pace University in collaboration with Con Edison and Solar developers SunPower and Onyx, plans to build solar carports and rooftop solar units on the Pleasantville campus by 2023.

Pace is planning to place solar panels in parking lots on campus near Lienhard Hall and Miller Hall, as well as the townhouse parking lots and a lot near entrance 3. There will also be solar roofing above a portion of the lot near Goldstein fitness center as well. The project calls for 16 car charging ports, spread between 3 locations. These will be powered by the universities’ solar panels.

The panels will be leased to Pace for 25 years through Con Edison. Pace will receive a yearly “rental” pay and will be allowed to purchase 40% of the energy generated for the university, with the rest being sold to the grid through Con Edison. This means the university will be making a minimum of 125k a year.

The project will include trenching on campus this summer, and assembly of carports and rooftop solar panels in summer of 2023. Permitting from the town of Mount Pleasant is still needed, agreements are hoped to be reached by the end of this spring 2022 semester.

 Ryan McEnany, who works with sustainability and energy on campus said that this plan will, “Create half the amount of energy the Pleasantville campus uses in a year.”

This has “environmental and social benefits,” McEnany said. “We were a bit behind the curve,” he said on Pace’s sustainability efforts in the past. “What we have done in the past 5 years, I think that we really have made progress on that front.” Greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 40% on campus, and with solar, there will be an additional 15%. Pace was listed in the Princeton Review as a green school in 2020 for the first time.

With universities in the United States consuming such a high amount of energy, there is pressure to combat this carbon footprint. Pace is not the first university to use solar power on its campus. Universities lead solar initiatives across the United States with leaders of Northwestern University, Drexel University, and the University of Arizona, according to the online publication Solar Power Authority.

Pace University plans to reach Net-Zero on campus in the near future, but exact specifications on this will not be determined until later this year.