Energy consumption on campus is the largest source of the university’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Southern Oregon University is committed to reducing its energy consumption through conservation and efficiency, in addition to increasing onsite renewable energy generation.
Campus Energy Sources
SOU uses electricity and natural gas to provide energy to the campus. Electricity consumption accounts for approximately 39% of the university’s GHG emissions. Electricity is purchased through the City of Ashland, who sources primarily from the Bonneville Power Administration. Natural Gas, purchased from Avista, accounts for about 18% of SOU’s carbon footprint.
How Does SOU Heat and Cool Buildings?
The Utility Division of Facilities Management & Planning is responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of the heating and cooling systems on campus. The bulk of the heating and cooling is provided by a central utility plant, which houses four boilers and two chillers. Steam and chilled water are distributed from the central plant throughout the campus in an underground tunnel system. It is then converted to hot water, hot air, or cooled air in the building mechanical rooms, and then distributed through the building using the building HVAC systems. Some buildings (which are not on the central systems) are supported by localized air conditioners, heat pumps, or gas furnaces.
Southern Oregon University hosts more than 1,000 solar photovoltaic panels that harness the sun’s rays to generate clean, renewable energy for the campus. The solar-generated by these panels helps the university to power our buildings while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
SOU’s first solar installation was on the Hannon Library in 2000! This 6 kW system consisting of 24 panels is rated to generate 7,646 kWh of electricity annually. In 2019, SOU students developed an innovative power purchase agreement with the university to expand the solar array on the library. The expansion features an additional 159 Canadian Solar KuMax panels, bringing the total system up to 62.37 kW. Click here to view live generation data from this array.
RCC/SOU Higher Education Center
The Higher Education Center is host to SOU’s second solar array. This 56 kW system was installed in 2009. It features 319 SolarWorld 175W panels that are rated to generate more than 71,000 kWh annually.
In 2013, SOU students dedicated $85,000 from the student Green Fund to install a 32 kW solar array on the Stevenson Union. One of the most photogenic arrays in town, this project consists of 117 SolarWorld 270 mono panels that can generate an estimated 41,000 kWh each year.
McLoughlin Hall features both solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal panels. There is a 73.7 kW solar PV system made up of 268 SolarWorld 275 panels. This system is rated to generate approximately 97,000 kWh of electricity per year. The building also hosts solar thermal panels that harness the sun’s energy to heat water for showers and other hot water needs within the building. An array of 16 flat plate solar collectors sit on the roof just above the solar PV panels.
SOU’s largest solar array was installed on Shasta Hall in June 2014. The 300 SolarWorld 275 mono panels can provide SOU’s largest residence hall with more than 92,000 kWh of clean, renewable electricity each year.
SRC/Lithia Motors Pavilion
The Student Recreation Center/Lithia Motors Pavilion brought a 63 kW solar PV system online in October 2018. The system features 180 SolarWorld 350 XL panels and 90 optimizers to enhance performance. View system information and energy production (updated every 4 hours) with Solar Edge.
The solar array is one of the many green building features that contribute to the SRC/Lithia Motors Pavilion’s LEED Gold Certification.
Recreation Storage Building
SOU’s Recreation Storage Building was designed for solar. The building was built to have a south-facing roof with an optimal tilt to leverage southern Oregon’s solar resource. The building is adorned with a 24.14 kW system featuring 68 Canadian Solar KuMax panels. This array produces more energy than the building consumes, feeding renewable energy back into the grid. Take a look at the live energy generation data from this perfectly set solar array.