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Renewable Energy

students observing windmillWe’re continually researching ways to increase our use of renewable energy. We commissioned Burns and McDonnell – one of the world’s leading engineering firms – to study new opportunities for clean energy on campus. Possibilities involve:

  • Cogeneration: The simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source, also known as combined heat and power. This process makes use of energy that would otherwise be wasted.
  • Geothermal systems: A process that uses clean geothermal energy, or energy stored in the ground, for heating and cooling purposes.

Current programs also include:

Renewable Energy Certificates

epa green power puchaser markThe University supports green power by matching 96 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of its annual energy use with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This green power commitment represents 37 percent of the University's total annual electricity use and places NU in the EPA's Green Power Leadership Club. Northwestern is a top purchaser in the Big Ten, contributing to the conference being recognized by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as 2012-2013 Collective Conference Champions for using green power.

Solar Energy

The Centennial Solar Panel System, a solar photovoltaic array covering nearly the entire roof of Northwestern's Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, has been installed and connected to the building's electric grid. The 16.8-kilowatt panel display has the potential to generate as much as 20,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, enough to power a computer lab in Ford and reduce the University's reliance on the power grid.