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Energy savings made in the shade with new carport

Structure will collect solar energy for use on the CU-Boulder grid

solar carport being built by the University of Colorado Boulder
A Solar carport being built by the University of
Colorado Boulder

A new carport under construction near Boulder's Bear Creek Apartment Complex will do more than shade the autos of residents: It will capture enough electricity to power the equivalent of 20 single-family homes for a year.

The solar carport being built by the University of Colorado Boulder will boast 100 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels along its roof, producing about 145,000 kWh/year of electricity, which will flow into the university's grid.

Construction conventionally is funded by grants, campus budgets or gifts from donors. This project breaks those norms by partnering with a third-party financing, design and construction company, EcoDepot. By doing so, CU can take advantage of all renewable energy rebates, tax credits and accelerated depreciation write off.

"If we would have done this project on our own, we would have left a significant amount of tax credits and incentives on the table," said Moe Tabrizi, director of sustainability at CU-Boulder. The university also will have the opportunity to buy the solar installations after seven years at a fraction of the original cost.

This renewable and green energy production is in conjunction with the development of Williams Village North, a new 500-bed residence hall. It is expected to be the first LEED Platinum-rated building on campus and the largest residence hall in the country to achieve the designation.

Williams Village North also boasts sustainable features such as solar-heated water, native landscaping, and regional and recycled content building materials. Construction is expected to be completed this summer, with students moving in during August.

More solar projects are in the pipeline at CU-Boulder, including installation of solar photovoltaic panels on available rooftops and awnings.

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