The University of Kansas signed an agreement in 2018 to purchase nearly 100% of its electricity through Evergy’s Renewables Direct program, which supported construction of the 300-megawatt Soldier Creek Wind Farm in Nemaha County.
A 20-year agreement will provide the KU Lawrence campus with 31 Megawatts (MW) of energy and help KU meet its sustainability goal of offsetting carbon emissions with energy from renewable sources.
Renewables Direct allows commercial and industrial customers to offset some or all of their energy usage through a renewable resource. The program provides large customers a path toward their sustainability goals with renewable energy, while providing long-term price stability and cost savings. KU expects to save $250,000 to $350,000 annually on electricity costs.
As part of the commitment to reduce its energy impacts, the KU Lawrence campus is also working to reduce its consumption through energy conservation and is developing a new comprehensive energy plan focused on providing energy efficient, responsible, cost effective operations. Previous energy conservation efforts have saved $800,000 each year, and a new plan will provide goals and strategies for prioritizing and investing in energy conservation efforts.
M2SEC Solar Panels
The 10-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Measurement Materials and Sustainable Environment Center (M2SEC) was provided by a $48,473 grant from Westar Energy. The project at KU was one of 15 around the state that won funding as part of Westar Energy’s Solar Photovoltaic Project.
Cromwell Solar of Lawrence installed solar panels on the roof in July of 2015. The arrangement of the panels also serves as a greeting of sorts to campus, as the panels form the letters K and U.
The solar panels in the M2SEC building will be available for faculty and student research subject to coordination with KU’s Office of Facilities Planning & Development. The agreement with Westar requires KU to operate and maintain the solar panels for 25 years.
View real-time solar data from the array.
Center for Design Research
The Center for Design Research's new classroom and conference center building was designed, built, and dedicated in 2010-2011 by students enrolled in the KU Department of Architecture's Studio 804.
The Center for Design Research building features 33 solar panels at 235 watts each and a Skystream 3.7 wind turbine rated at 2.4 killowatts. The building also has smart-grid electricity metering, an energy-conserving plant-covered roof, a rain garden, LED lighting, and an electric-vehicle charging system.
This building was the first in Lawrence and at KU to receive the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum rating in 2013.
To make an appointment for a tour, visit the Center for Design Research contact page. See this link for more information about Studio 804.
Hill Engineering RDC
The Hill Engineering Research and Development Center houses the KU EcoHawks and helps engineering students conduct their research, which includes fabricating and refurbishing electric vehicles and working with biofuels, photovoltaics and shrouded wind turbine research.
The building features 45 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof at 260 watts each and 18 solar panels on the entry at 250 watts each.
The solar panels significantly offset the building’s energy costs. Net metering enables the university to be credited for excess energy production during peak hours of sun and wind and use these credits during less productive times. An energy management system displays the building’s real time energy on a monitor that allows building users to immediately see the impact of the photovoltaics on the building. Preliminary energy model studies indicate that the EcoHawks’ facility will require less energy than produced by 12%.
A public electric vehicle charging station has been provided to encourage the use of alternative fuel vehicles. Additional charging spaces are roughed in for the eventual expansion of this concept in the larger public park and ride lot.
The Forum at Marvin Hall
The Forum, located in the Architecture department of University of Kansas, was designed and built by students to meet the LEED Platinum standards in 2014.
The space features 60 solar panels at 250 watts each on the roof. Naturally-ventilated façade, repositionable vertical louvers, lush vegetation, LED lights, water reclamation, and usage of recycling materials are the other great aspects of this building.