Michigan State University’s solar carport project received the 2018 Innovative Project Award from the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan. The award recognizes exemplary projects in the region exhibiting features that above and beyond the status quo.
MSU's solar carport array is constructed on five of the university's largest commuter parking lots and covers 5,000 parking spaces. Created through a power purchase agreement, the project provides renewable power production and reduced energy consumption on campus, also offering engineering students the opportunity to study various solar technologies and their integration into the micro-grid.
“We are thrilled to honor the MSU solar project and highlight that the benefits of solar go far beyond economics” said Cheri Holman, executive director of U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan.
In presenting the award, U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan noted how the solar carport project blends innovation, hands-on learning and sensible money management. The excellent land-use design saves approximately 45 acres of precious agricultural land.
While generating electricity for the city-sized campus year-around, the array shades the vehicles from seasonal weather conditions. Students, faculty and staff park vehicles under the solar panels and can take a quick shuttle to campus, thereby decreasing traffic congestion within the university and reducing on-sight air pollution.
Most importantly, the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan feels the array ultimately serves the highest purpose of the university – to educate students.
“MSU is internationally recognized as one of the top-100 universities in the world; as such, we have to lead in the field of renewable energies,” said Wolfgang Bauer, senior consultant in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Administrative Services and one of MSU’s project leaders. “With this project, we have shown that environmental sustainability and financial sustainability can be achieved at the same time. The green electricity that our new solar array produces is actually cheaper than fossil-fuel generated electricity that we could buy off the grid."
The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan, organized in 2004, is a program-based, committee-driven non-profit dedicated to transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, in a way that improves the quality of life in Michigan. The organization accomplishes its mission through education, advocacy, programs and competitions including the Grand Rapids 2030 District, Michigan Battle of the Buildings and the Energy Assistance Program.