Added solar panels on two campus buildings

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UC Riverside is expanding its access to renewable energy on site by installing solar panels on two campus buildings.

Workers installed panels on the roofs of the dormitory and student union last month.

The Student Recreation Center now houses 741 panels, while 346 panels have been added to the student union building. The two systems will together deliver 473 kilowatts of solar energy.

A new solar system was installed on the roof of the Student Recreation Center. (Courtesy of the Office for Planning, Design and Building.)

The projects are part of UC Riverside's ongoing commitment to the University of California's Carbon Neutrality Initiative, said John Franklin, project manager at the Office of Planning, Design and Construction. The initiative obliges UC to emit net-zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025.

“Our campus is designed to offset as much (energy use) as possible,” said Franklin.

The projects are the largest installations of solar panels on campus since a project in 2017 when 9,600 solar panels were installed in parking lots 30 and 32.

A third project is planned for the roof of the Lothian Residence Hall. The project will be advertised later this week and a contract will be awarded soon, Franklin said. The number of solar panels for this project has not yet been determined.

All three plants are built by UCR and are owned by the campus, unlike lots 30 and 32, which were built and funded by an outside electricity company.

The installation, where a crane lifted the panels to the top of the building, includes shelving and protective equipment. A metering system has also been added that allows the campus to closely monitor energy production.

Flags mark an area on the roof of the student union before solar systems are installed. (UCR / Stan Lim)

The campus has tried to expand solar use where possible with floor and carport-mounted modules in addition to those on roofs.

Planners need to be selective about how roof panels are placed because not all buildings can support the weight of the solar equipment, Franklin said. They also avoid locations that could cause lighting and reflection problems with adjacent buildings, he said.

More projects are expected to be added as funding and locations become available, Franklin said.


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