North Central College in Naperville, IL, is going solar thanks in part to a recent partnership with the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The college is installing a 538.56 kilowatt solar array with 250 kW energy storage system at its Residence Hall/Recreation Center building, which will provide 22 percent of the building's electric needs.
The college created the Cardinal Sustainability Fund in February 2014, allocating $1.8 million of revolving funds to support sustainability initiatives on campus. Earlier this year that commitment allowed the college to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. North Central College is one of two in Illinois that have accepted the challenge.
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge tasks universities and non-profit institutions to create revolving funds to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that yield a return on investment that can repay the fund and lead to both cost savings and future investments. Thus far the challenge has seen commitments from 62 institutions that have pledged $131 million to such projects.
Joining the challenge has benefits, according to the college’s Sustainability Coordinator Brittany Graham. “It exposes others to our robust sustainability efforts and we gain access to many resources, like research papers and a green revolving investment tracking system (GRITS),” she said. “This tool will help us track our savings and fund balances, which is helpful to our business office, faculty and students who are involved in all the challenge projects.”
The solar array and the energy storage system is the largest project that the college’s fund has supported so far. The projects it supports have specific requirements, including a payback within 15 years and faculty and student engagement. With this project it is launching a communications class focussed on engaging the community in education about solar power and energy storage and it sell excess stored energy as needed.
“A college like North Central has the time horizon to experience the full upside and benefit of energy efficiency projects…and the expertise to evaluate these projects, to assess the science behind the technology, to model the energy, to evaluate the financials, to verify the math,” said College President Troy Hammond.Tweet