Northeastern University Partners with Ameresco to Install Rooftop Solar System on University Library

April 4, 2024
The solar system will provide 157.78 kW DC of power for the University’s library, which sees more than two million visitors each year, and is projected to save the University nearly 13,600 kWh annually

Ameresco, a cleantech integrator specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, has completed a comprehensive solar installation at Northeastern University’s Boston campus.

The installation involves an on-grid rooftop solar system at the University’s Snell Library building. The solar system will provide 157.78 kW of direct current power for the University’s library, which sees more than two million visitors each year, and is projected to save the University nearly 13,600 kWh annually. The system is also expected to offset 146 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.

“This solar installation represents a key milestone on Northeastern University’s path to decarbonization,” said Pete Christakis, EVP and GM of the East Region at Ameresco. “Given Northeastern University’s global prominence as a leading research university, this project will serve as a model for how organizations can make sustainability goals a reality by leveraging the versatility, cost-effectiveness, and longevity of renewable sources of energy.”

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During the solar installation process, the team faced limitations posed by the building structures that required meticulous planning and strategic coordination. For example, the library’s roof already featured existing building units such as air handlers and compressors, which limited the available roof space for solar technology.

The team also had to contend with logistical constraints due to the library's proximity to the Northeast corridor, which limited crane placement behind buildings. As a result, Ameresco had to strategize crane picks from alternative angles.

Despite these unique circumstances, Ameresco was able to complete the University’s solar installation project ahead of schedule.

In total, this project will further the University’s “three pillars” of decarbonization, which include generating electricity, increasing building efficiency, and eliminating natural gas use. The University is currently looking to identify future opportunities to advance decarbonization efforts, including replacing the existing solar panels installed above the Curry Student Center.

“The University was one of the first in the country in 1994 when they put their array on top of the Curry Student Center, I think that demonstrated a larger narrative for where we want to be with energy and sustainability,” said Mark Bates, Energy Manager at Northeastern’s Planning, Real Estate, and Facilities Division.