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Renewable Energy

We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by reducing emissions wherever possible, generating our own renewable energy when feasible, pledging zero emissions growth, and offsetting our remaining emissions in projects that have co-benefits.

Rows of bright solar panels on a roof

The Santa Clara University campus is currently home to photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, and a wind turbine. SCU is on course to install a smart microgrid, which maximizes energy savings by tying its power source, transmission, distribution, and even consumption data to weather reports.


The Santa Clara University campus is currently home to 1,100 kilowatts of photovoltaics.

1 MW solar array installation

One megawatt of solar panels are on the roofs of Leavey and Pat Malley Fitness & Recreation Center, and as sun shade on the third level of the main parking structure. View the amount of energy generated annually in our Energy Data Hub for on-site solar. This solar capacity satisfies about 6% of the University's electrical energy needs. More significantly, it supports about 20% of our summer daytime demand, significantly reducing stress on the grid. This also enhances long term stability to our energy budget. 

50 kW photovoltaic system

In 2007, SCU installed of a 50-kW photovoltaic system on the roof of the Support Services Building. This system provides approximately 89,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the average year at SCU. This energy, enough to power 2.5 average houses, will reduce the University's carbon dioxide emissions by 40 tons - equivalent to taking 8 cars off the road for a year or planting 12 acres of trees.

Bird project

In 2021, thanks to a generous investment from Jeff and Tina Bird, a new initiative will fund photovoltaic systems in multiple campus locations over the next few years, generating an anticipated 1.7 megawatts of renewable energy each year when completed. The panels will more than double SCU’s current on-site solar generation capacity, and annual savings from the decreased energy costs will be reinvested back into SCU's ongoing sustainability efforts.

Other photovoltaics on campus

In 2012, SCU installed a 25-kW photovoltaic system on top of the St. Clare Residence Hall. In 2010 SCU installed a 7-kW photovoltaic system on top of the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center. The 2009 Solar Decathlon house has 10.8 kW of photovoltaics on its rooftop. The 2007 Solar Decathlon house has 7.3 kW of photovoltaics on its rooftop.

Smart Microgrid

SCU is on course to install a smart microgrid, which ties its power source, transmission, distribution, and even consumption data to weather reports, thereby maximizing energy savings. The power source can be solar, wind, geothermal, essentially any kind of electricity generator. The smart microgrid can also deliver data in real time and measure carbon emissions. In the event of a major power outage, SCU would be able to remain operational, even during prolonged periods of time, and generate enough electricity to power nearby homes and businesses.

In the first phase of the project, SCU installed sub-meters into 14 buildings and integrated the smart microgrid’s onsite alternative energy sources, such as solar, fuel cells, and micro-turbines. The next phase will connect the entire campus to the microgrid. Once the launch of the smart microgrid is complete, it’s estimated to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent and save the University about 20 percent in energy costs. 

SCU is collaborating with Sustainable Silicon Valley, Cisco, and Serious Energy (formerly Valence Energy), which was founded by SCU alumni who competed in the 2007 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.

Solar Thermal

energy, renewable

A 60-collector solar thermal system was installed on top of the Benson Memorial Center in 2010. The system is the largest rooftop concentrating solar thermal installation built to date in California and the largest solar thermal project yet completed under the California Solar Initiative-Thermal (CSI-T) program. The Chromasun MCT panels will produce an estimated 6,700 therms of energy annually and heat water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for Benson Memorial Center’s dining services. Heating water with solar energy rather than with natural gas will reduce the building’s water-heating bills by as much as 70 percent and offset 34 tons of CO2, equivalent to the total annual emissions of 6.6 automobiles. The system will help SCU reach its goal of becoming climate neutral by the end of 2020. 

The collectors were manufactured at a Chromasun facility in San Jose, CA. The workforce at this facility includes former New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) autoworkers that were re-trained as solar manufacturing experts after the NUMMI facility closed and put back to work building Chromasun modules.

 Wind Energy

renewable energy

In 2012, SCU installed its first wind turbine on campus on top of the Facilities and Support Services building. Weighing 185 pounds and measuring 7 feet high and 6.5 feet wide, the unit is capable of producing 1,500 kWh per year, which is enough to power an average American household for about 49 days.

Green Power Program

Santa Clara University supports the generation of 30,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy through Santa Clara Green Power. This amount is equal to the annual output of nine of the programs wind turbines, preventing the emission of over 21,545 tons of carbon dioxide each year. These reductions in emissions are equivalent to taking 4,119 cars off the road for one year.

See how much energy our solar panels have generated


Million kWh of energy are produced by SCU solar panels annually

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