UNO Partners with Bernhard to Launch On-Campus Solar Array

NEW ORLEANS — From the University of New Orleans:

The University of New Orleans and Bernhard have announced the completion of a state-of-the-art solar array on the University’s campus, which will offset 17% of UNO’s annual electric consumption. This initiative marks a significant step forward in UNO’s commitment to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.

Completed in just 10 months, the project comprises 3,300 panels seamlessly integrated into UNO’s infrastructure to provide immediate benefits to the on-campus community. The array is located on the west side of campus in a parking lot between The Cove and Privateer Place.

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“The completion of the solar array project marks a major milestone in the University’s sustainability efforts,” said UNO President Kathy Johnson. “It will help reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions starting right now. I am thrilled that our partnership with Bernhard has yielded such an innovative approach to energy usage.”
One of the standout features of the solar array is its ability to monitor and match UNO’s energy consumption on a second-by-second basis. The array never produces more electricity than the University utilizes, so there is no excess electricity to feed back into the grid, which maximizes sustainability efforts.

The benefits of this pioneering project are multifaceted. Not only does the sun serve as a renewable green energy source, reducing UNO’s reliance on traditional utility providers, but it significantly diminishes UNO’s carbon footprint. UNO also stands to benefit financially, with anticipated savings from reduced energy costs and eligibility for a 30% Investment Tax Credit rebate totaling approximately $520,000.

The solar array’s environmental impact is substantial, with an estimated annual reduction of 1,721 metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing 319 cars from the road or planting 40,263 trees in one year, according to Bernhard’s estimates. This underscores UNO’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, Johnson said.

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The solar array installation is part of a 25-year partnership between Bernhard and UNO aimed at revitalizing the University’s energy infrastructure, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting UNO’s academic and research endeavors. Over the partnership’s lifetime, UNO anticipates that the solar array together with the other energy efficiency improvements will generate $2.1 million in annual utility cost savings—$52.5 million over 25 years—while addressing nearly $9 million in deferred maintenance.

UNO’s 200-acre lakefront campus is undergoing extensive energy infrastructure improvements totaling $27 million within the partnership’s initial 24 months. These enhancements include the solar array installation, renewal of chilled water systems, building asset upgrades, efficiency improvements and retro-commissioning efforts, all aimed at enhancing sustainability and efficiency.

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