Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.85
Liaison Amy Butler
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Michigan State University
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Amy Butler
Campus Sustainability Director
MSU Sustainability
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Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Solar Car Port

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The solar voltaic array broke ground in March, 2017, went online in December of 2017, and the first set of data reported from the Solar Carport project was reported for February 2018. The carport covers 5,000 parking spaces over five commuter parking spots and is designed to produce a combined total of 13.4 MW DC peak power, 10.5 MW AC peak power and a total estimated 15,000 MWh/year of solar energy. The energy produced is equivalent to powering 1,800 Michigan homes. The energy represents approximately 18% of MSU Peak power demand and 5% of the University's total energy demand. The array was built through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Inovateus, a solar-based company based in Indiana, and Alterra (now a subsidiary of Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.). The carport can accommodate vehicles up to the height of 13 ft, making it perfect for football tailgates while also creating ease of access for snow plowing and snow removal. These building choices create a completely one-of-a-kind space for the community to gather and enjoy games, stay dry, and benefit from parking spaces available under the array (this way, MSU avoided land use tradeoffs). The implementation of the array moved MSU up in the EPA's list of on-site green power partners to number 20, and provides the state and country with a working case study on solar power as an addition to micro-grid power.
The MSU Solar Carport is the largest non-utility Carport Solar Array in North America. The unique Power Purchase Agreement puts MSU in the position of immense cost-savings, as the companies who own the array will provide all maintenance, and MSU purchases 100% of the electricity generated at the agree-upon fixed price for 25 years. This groundbreaking partnership demonstrates MSU's leadership role in financial research and exploration, and the array itself provides many opportunities for research across the university, region, and country. The project's size, functionality, and scope paired with MSU's position as a leading research institution makes it an ideal research space to study solar innovations, especially in relation to a microgrid. The Carport is a public research and educational facility, and can serve as a public learning and training platform. The university brings a multitude of various tours through the array, and continuous research and case studies can be conducted on site.
The array was specifically designed as covered well-lit parking structures located on the exterior areas of campus and connected to multiple modes of transportation to reach central campus.  The carports are a key component of the MSU Campus Mobility Plan as well as Energy Plan.  They are a demonstration of “last mile traveled” for commuters and offer a  creative space for community engagement and for the local community attedning functions in the area.This provides a partial solution to MSU's long-standing issue of traffic congestion at the center of campus. With the Solar Carport, commuters (students, faculty, staff, and guests) can park their vehicles and utilize the connected walking and bike paths or take the bus from the location. These actions also align with the goals of turning parking spaces into an energy-generating transportation hub for the last mile traveled at MSU. 

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The solar carport has won the Michigan Energy Innovator's Project of the Year Award, the recipient of the Onsite Renewable Energy award for “The Largest Carport Solar Array in North America" at the Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Summit, and the EPA Green Power Leadership Award.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.