New rooftop solar installations are springing up across campus – University of Pittsburgh

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There’s plenty of new construction underway across Oakland. And some exciting projects may have gone over your head — literally.

Multiple rooftop solar power arrays are being installed across the Pittsburgh campus in support of the Pitt Climate Action Plan. These installations contribute to Pitt’s goals of producing or procuring 50% renewable electricity by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2037.

Already in 2024, solar panels were installed atop the Petersen Sports Complex, and more are being added to Ruskin Hall, Posvar Hall and David Lawrence Hall. The combined 1.08 megawatts of arrays will produce around 1,128,680 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year — the equivalent of powering 61.5 homes or removing 109 cars from the road.

Among the installations, Posvar Hall’s rooftop solar array will become the University’s largest, at 650 kilowatts (kW); David Lawrence Hall’s solar will total 170 kW, the Petersen Sports Complex is 68 kW and Ruskin Hall will be 143 kw, along with being Pitt’s first residence hall to sport solar. This expansion bolsters rooftop solar use on the Pittsburgh campus, which previously had limited arrays atop Benedum Hall.

Additionally, many buildings in design or under construction will include solar on their roofs, including the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, Fifth and Halket building, Arena and Sports Performance Center and Pitt BioForge.

Pitt’s new solar arrays will supply electricity directly to each building they reside on, decreasing the electricity the University needs to purchase. Once the solar panels are up and running, Pitt Sustainability dashboards will be available online to show how much each array is producing.

To determine locations, the Facilities Management team assessed campus building roofs to determine the potential for rooftop solar use at each location. When the University re-roofs existing buildings to maintain them, the opportunity for installing solar panels is also considered.

Pittsburgh-based installer EIS Solar is providing the new solar arrays, using bifacial solar modules — which produce power from both the front and back — and power optimizers to harvest the sun in the most efficient manner. In addition, the arrays use U.S.-made racking systems and electrical components. Minority-owned firm Imbutec is installing the systems in partnership with Pitt.

Rooftop solar power is a visible, high impact solution to reduce carbon emissions, and is just one avenue by which Pitt is pursuing solar energy. The largest contributor to Pitt’s renewable energy journey is the University’s partnership with the 20 megawatt Gaucho Solar Farm near Pittsburgh International Airport, which came online in June 2023. The University also committed to purchasing local, renewable power from the future hydroelectric plant along the Allegheny River.

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