As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to force U.S. colleges and universities to operate remotely, many of these campuses have been using the closures to analyze their sustainability goals and long-term energy needs. With far less foot traffic around campus and utility demands lower than a typical year, the past few months have allowed campuses to gain traction on new sustainability projects.
“It takes time to get momentum, and once you get it, you need to keep going,” Paul Kempf, assistant vice president of utilities and maintenance at the University of Notre Dame said.
Schools like Loyola Marymount University (LMU) are exploring new sustainability options such as the feed-in tariff program from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). This program would let LMU lease its solar roofs out to the LADWP to provide green power to the entire grid, according to LMU’s campus sustainability officer, Ian McKeown.
During the Covid-19 shutdowns, some universities, like Notre Dame, undertook conservation and energy efficiency efforts. Others, including LMU, have been doing a deep dive on energy use and sustainability. “When people aren’t onsite, there is an opportunity to do retrofits and audits and to come up with strategies and recommendations around what happens during a campus closure,” McKeown said.
Numerous U.S. colleges and universities have adopted ambitious renewable energy commitments as part of decarbonization strategies. Last year, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) reported that more than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100% or more of their electricity from renewable resources. As COVID-19 delays campus openings, long-term plans and strategies continue to be refined and developed at campuses across the country to push sustainability to new heights.
 Haggerty, Jean. “Colleges Reassessing Energy Needs, Sustainability Goals in the Face of Covid-Related Shutdowns.” PV Magazine, 26, June 2020, https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2020/06/26/colleges-reassessing-energy-needs-sustainability-goals-in-the-face-of-covid-related-shutdowns/
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