Colleges get an 'A' in energy Colleges get an 'A' in energy

Colleges get an 'A' in energy

Universities work with Duke Energy to increase sustainability and lower their carbon footprint


Right behind classes and sports (and maybe parties), energy is a hot topic on the nation’s college campuses. Colleges are focusing on sustainability and lowering their carbon footprint. Here are three collaborations between Duke Energy and colleges for a greener energy future.

Duke University, Durham, N.C.


In 2016, Duke University and Duke Energy announced a combined heat and power facility that will use natural gas to generate electricity and produce steam for the university’s needs. The arrangement will lower Duke University’s carbon footprint by about 25 percent by using a more efficient energy mix.

The 21-megawatt facility will be capable of producing roughly 75,000 pounds of steam per hour, which will be sold to the university for heating water and other thermal needs. The CHP facility will be connected to an existing Duke Energy substation on campus, which serves the university, its medical center and other utility customers.


“This partnership will … accelerate our progress toward climate neutrality,” said university Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III. “By combining steam and electricity generation systems, we can increase efficiency and reduce our overall consumption by millions of units of energy each year – plus have a positive effect on the community at large.”

George Washington University and American University, Washington, D.C.


George Washington University, American University and George Washington Hospital are buying electricity from Duke Energy’s 52-megawatt solar facility in northeastern North Carolina as part of an innovative project for colleges in an urban setting.

The project significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the universities – eliminating about 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide compared to conventional electricity. This is equivalent to taking roughly 12,500 cars off the road.

“This represents a giant leap forward toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2040,” said Dr. Kathleen A. Merrigan, executive director of sustainability at George Washington University.  

University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla.


The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) is using a grant from Duke Energy to explore how to store and use energy from the sun. A large battery works with a 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on top of a university parking lot.

The larger energy storage system operates with two smaller existing energy storage systems. This creates a research opportunity in addition to building on existing battery technology while advancing clean energy solutions.

“USFSP’s solar array, energy storage system and charging stations have provided students and faculty a unique opportunity to study and develop new curriculums and programs in business and sustainability-related disciplines,” said John Dickson, USFSP's director of facilities services. “The system has (cut operating expenses) and furthered our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Improving sustainability

Duke Energy, which has reduced its carbon emissions 28 percent since 2005, operates about 20 wind power plants, 50 solar power plants and 10 large battery projects across the country.


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