Top 5 Universities Powered by Solar Energy

As the Solar List's SolarBowl gears up for kickoff on October 1, it's only fitting to take a look at the universities in the United States that have gone above and beyond to bring renewable solar power to their campuses. While college students compete to educate the most homeowners about solar energy in the Solar List Solar Bowl, check out these five colleges already making a difference in the solar energy world.

1.       Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon purchases enough renewable energy to offset 100 percent of its energy use each year. For the most part, the university buys renewable energy credits from wind resources, but Carnegie Mellon also produces some of its own solar energy. The school covered the roof of one of its buildings with solar panels that feed directly into the building and cut down on fossil fuel use. As of September 2013, the solar panels have provided 116,027 kilowatt hours of clean electricity.

2.       Texas A&M University

At the end of June, Texas A&M announced its plans to build the world's largest solar research facility. The school will install solar panels across 800 acres, which will utilize the state's sun-filled skies to generate energy. Combined, all of the panels should create enough electricity to completely power the school and an additional 20,000 homes. The school believes the system will save about $250,000 a year in energy costs and drive more than $500 million in solar research.

3.       Georgetown University

The entire university of Georgetown is powered by 100 percent green energy that comes from the purchase of a wide range of renewable energy credits, including wind and solar resources. But perhaps most notable is the school's recent sustainability project beyond the campus. Georgetown completed a row of six university-owned townhouses that are partly powered off of solar energy. In total, the buildings have about 18 kilowatts' worth of solar energy, enough to power 27 percent of the home's electricity needs.

4.       American University

In 2012, American University built a huge solar array, which at the time was the largest solar system in the D.C. area. The school used 2,150 panels to cover seven rooftops on its campus. In addition, the school has a large solar water heating system that supplies hot water for its dormitories and dishwashing facilities.

5.       Northwestern University

Northwestern purchases 96 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy every year, enough to power 37 percent of the campus. Though it may not seem like much clean energy, Northwestern makes one of the largest renewable energy purchases compared to other schools in the nation.  In addition, the university has installed a 17 kilowatt solar array on the roof of one of its buildings, providing renewable electricity directly to the structure.

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