By: Clare McCarthy, General Sustainability Intern, Office of Sustainability Initiatives
On August 7, Emory’s 1599 Clifton Road Building became the first campus rooftop to house a solar installation through a partnership with Cherry Street Energy, an Atlanta-based power company. The partnership was established in May, and since then, progress has been made on three of the sixteen installations which are set to be installed on campus rooftops and parking decks of Emory’s Druid Hills campus. On October 23, the solar panels on the rooftop of Gambrell Hall of the School of Law were also connected and energized. The remaining panel installations will be connected over the next year.
Together, the panels are expected to generate 10% of Emory’s peak energy requirements and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 4,300 metric tons annually, in alignment with Emory’s renewable energy and emission reduction campus goals. The 1599 panels are on track to contribute greatly to this expected reduction: as of October 26, the panels generated over 42.37 MWh of energy and saved 63,214.94 lb of CO2 emissions since August 7. The CO2 emissions saved by the panels are equivalent to the planting of almost 500 trees.
Emory’s partnership with Cherry Street Energy furthers its commitment to economic inclusion and social justice, as the panels are installed through Cherry Street’s workforce development program, Shine On. Shine On reimagines the renewable energy economy for the blue collar workforce, empowering workers with training and experience to build a career in the growing field of solar installation. The installation at the 1599 Building employed maintenance workers who were furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, each megawatt of solar energy installed at Emory supports 25 long-term careers.
At the ribbon cutting for the connection of panels on the 1599 Clifton Road building, Emory and Cherry Street Energy staff celebrated the start to Emory purchasing solar power generated by the panels owned and maintained by Cherry Street through a Solar Energy Procurement Agreement (SEPA), as well as the financial, environmental, and workforce development co-benefits of the partnership. Watch the full ribbon cutting video to learn more.