Project demonstrates the College’s commitment to sustainable action while also providing students, faculty, and staff research and learning opportunities
Lafayette took a major step toward advancing the sustainability goals of the College. Construction of an on-campus solar array—the College’s first—is now complete and operational. The project demonstrates the College’s commitment to sustainable action while also providing students, faculty, and staff research and learning opportunities.
Construction of the approximately 470-kilowatt (kW) solar array began on the roof of Kirby Sports Center in June 2021 and was completed in early September 2021. The solar installation is expected to generate around 540 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean, renewable energy annually and will power operations at Kirby. Over its lifetime, the solar array will offset 9,625 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO 2), or the equivalent of taking more than 2,000 cars off the road.
Increasing renewable energy on campus will not only help the College in its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, but it will also provide experiential learning opportunities for students. Faculty will integrate the project into courses, providing students a deeper understanding and a real-world example of solar at work.
“This project is intended to visually articulate to the Lafayette community and visitors the College’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality and use the campus as a living laboratory,” says Delicia Nahman, director of sustainability.
There are plans to add an educational viewing station near Markle parking deck, which will provide visitors to the College information about the project and how it supports the College’s commitment to sustainability.
The College engaged CustomerFirst Renewables for preliminary development and contracted with Pfister Energy, a top commercial solar developer and EPC based in Hawthorne, New Jersey, and Greenskies Clean Energy, a leader in commercial renewable energy solutions. Pfister Energy will be responsible for engineering and construction, and Greenskies will finance and manage the solar operations. Together, Greenskies and Pfister Energy are providing internship positions to Lafayette students for a five-year duration.
Emily Ross ’22, a chemical engineering major with a minor in environmental science, worked as a project intern during spring 2021 for the design and engineering phase. “I’m hoping to pursue a career in renewable energy after graduation, so getting a close-up look at this process is an exciting and informative opportunity,” Ross says.
“Greenskies is pleased to partner with Pfister to help Lafayette achieve their sustainability goals and provide valuable internship opportunities to the student body,” says Stanley Chin, president and CEO of Greenskies. “Investing in solar energy is the easiest and single most cost-effective way for large institutions to reduce their carbon emissions.”
“Pfister Energy is excited to be a part of this project and proud of the benefits it will produce for the Lafayette College community,” says Wayne Pfisterer, president of Pfister Energy.