The Catholic University of America plans to install over 1,000 3-by-6 solar panels on four of its buildings beginning in mid-November. By 2010 the panels will meet about 1 percent of the university’s energy needs.

A 20-year contract with Washington Gas and Energy Services has made this initiative economically feasible for the university. Over the next 20 years, Catholic University must pay a fixed rate for the energy produced by the solar panels and Washington Gas and Energy Services will own and maintain the panels, according to [a Catholic University press release](http://publicaffairs.cua.edu/Releases/2009//09SolarPanels.cfm).

“Catholic has an ongoing sustainability initiative across many venues. But solar is attractive because the economics were good, the terms of the deal were hard to beat and solar works without moving parts,” said Brian Alexander, Catholic University’s director of energy and utilities.

In addition to the solar panels, Catholic University currently purchases 35 percent of its electricity through renewable energy certificates and opened its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-compliant student residency hall this past January. LEED is a standard developed by [the U.S. Green Building Council](http://www.usgbc.org/) in 2000.

“Shifting our energy dependence off of conventional sources to renewable energy is an imperative component to achieve overall campus stability,” Maggie Comstock, president of Catholic University’s Green Club said. “The university has indicated its commitment to environmental stewardship, and we hope that there are more improvements to come.”

The university plans to continue its experimentation with renewable energy.

“If the project goes well, we will be adding panels to other buildings, especially those buildings that have had roof replacements, so we do not have to replace a roof with panels on them,” Alexander said.

While Catholic University’s solar energy system will be larger than that of Georgetown, Georgetown’s total environmental efforts were higher rated than those of Catholic University’s.

“If you look at our Green Report card, we are miles ahead of Catholic – especially when it comes to composting and energy reduction,” Kristin Ng (COL ’11), president of EcoAction said.

On the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card, [Georgetown received an overall grade of a B](http://www.thehoya.com/news/georgetown-looks-to-go-greener/), whereas Catholic University received a D.

Georgetown also has a solar panel array of its own, on top of the Intercultural Center.

“The ICC solar array was installed in 1984, and it is the longest-running installation of its scale in the country. The array currently provides 6 percent of the ICC’s energy,” Andy Pino, Georgetown’s director of Media Relations said. “

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