As the colleges and universities of the United States age, so too do their infrastructures, including their often antiquated electrical systems.
Presidents of these schools know they need to perform upgrades, but as usual the question comes down to money: Where will they find money in their budgets for what are sure to be expensive repairs?
Well, I suggest they look up—to the rooftops of their dormitories, administration buildings and classrooms. I suggest they seek solace in some of the currently unused acreage around their campuses. It’s my contention that adding just one element to all of that currently unoccupied space could solve many of the problems facing them.
In short, adding solar arrays to the rooftops and empty fields could give them a much-needed electrical upgrade and save money on their electrical bills (and maybe even turn a profit). And if they work with the right partner, it might not be as expensive as they think.
You know how we know this? We talk to college presidents all the time as we work with them to complete their solar conversions. Catholic University. University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). And to a person they all say virtually the same thing: Going solar is one of the best projects they’ve ever done.
“While the work we do here helps others live more sustainably, it’s essential that we lead by example,” said UMCES president Don Boesch told us as we put the last panel into the school’s 10-acre, 2 MW system. “Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society.”
Now, if you’re a president at an institution and think adding solar to your campus might be a good idea, put the phone down and do your research before making a call to any installer. After all, not all solar companies are sufficiently qualified to navigate the often complicated world of higher education.
It’s not just about the technical expertise, the construction experience or the ability to navigate the often arcane regulations surrounding historic buildings. You must find a company for whom those are the basics – and then find one that can go further.
With budgets tight and bursars closely monitoring bottom lines, it’s also key to find a company that can work with you on financing the project. All the artistic designs, years of construction experience and understanding of local permitting requirements will do you no good if you can’t fund the project.
A well-capitalized partner, with years of experience in crafting sensible solar financing solutions, is the best way to ensure your installation will be delivered on time, on budget— and at a price you can afford.
Deciding to go solar is not a process you should go through alone, so perform your due diligence and make sure you choose the right solar partner. When you start saving money, attracting more students and improving your electrical system, you’ll know you made the right decision for everyone.
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