Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.49
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date Dec. 17, 2020

STARS v2.2

Pennsylvania State University
IN-48: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
70MW Solar Power Purchase Agreement Process

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:

In 2019 Penn State partnered with solar developer LightSource BP to design a 70-megawatt, off-site solar energy project that would supply 25 percent of the University's system-wide electricity needs over the next 25 years. The project is tied for the largest solar project in the state of Pennsylvania. This innovative partnership was carefully designed to be a national model in maximizing the sustainability benefits of a utility-scale solar project.

In choosing a contractor for the project, Penn State worked closely with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) to ensure the selected project would not impact land with high biodiversity value. Applicants, including Lightsource BP, were asked to use a mapping tool developed by TNC to score proposed sites for their potential impact. This commitment to ensuring from the start that solar projects are not developed on lands that should be conserved for biodiversity and climate change resilience makes Penn State’s project a national leader that TNC hopes other utility-scale solar projects will also adopt in the future.

Lightsource BP also agreed to construct the facility in a regenerative fashion, meaning steps would be taken not only to minimize damage to the ecosystem on the land but also to improve soil health and create wildlife habitat. In this way, if years from now the solar array was to be removed, the land would still be usable for other purposes. Additionally, Penn State researchers are involved with the selection of grasses, shrubs and plants for the site and its perimeter that will promote biodiversity and pollination.

In addition to helping conserve the land, Penn State and Lightsource BP included terms in the Power Purchase Agreement to provide greater opportunities for both community and university engagement. The solar array will become a living laboratory for students and faculty to explore and develop practical real-world experience in designing utility solar projects that help conserve the environment. Funding for student projects is part of the power purchase agreement.

The project is now complete, and began producing electricity for Penn State on October 1, 2020. https://news.psu.edu/story/635735/2020/10/15/campus-life/penn-state-powers-solar?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_term=635857_HTML&utm_content=10-15-2020-21-10&utm_campaign=Penn%20State%20Today

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 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.