Major solar energy, conservation projects planned at WSU – Winona Post
McKinstry, a national construction and energy services firm, and Winona State University (WSU), a comprehensive, regional public university with campuses in Winona and Rochester, have started work on a $12.3 million sustainability and solar energy project. This project is the largest energy performance contract project in the Minnesota State University System and will result in annual guaranteed utility and operational cost savings of at approximately $685,000 — a 23.8 percent reduction in utility costs and a total savings of $26 million over the project’s 25-year lifetime.
A key element of the initiative is six rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays installed at Haake Hall, Helble Hall, Integrated Wellness Complex, Kirkland Hall, McCown Gym, and Wabasha Recreation Center, along with four solar carports in the Integrated Wellness Complex parking lot. The 1.4 megawatt project will generate almost 1.7 megawatt hours of renewable energy each year, making it the largest solar energy system of its kind at any Minnesota State campus. The on-site solar PV will provide nearly 10 percent of WSU’s annual electricity consumption while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 9,670,000 pounds, which is equivalent to driving the average passenger vehicle more than 11 million miles.
“At McKinstry we’re committed to keeping students comfortable while also getting the most for every precious education dollar,” said Scott Maynard, vice president of energy and technical services – Midwest for McKinstry. “With this project we’re proud to help WSU become Minnesota State’s most energy efficient university and home to the largest solar energy system at any of its campuses across the state.”
The project is part of a broader comprehensive sustainability and solar initiative for Winona State. The Leading Energy Savings and Sustainability (LESS) Initiative includes additional elements such as campus-wide lighting upgrades within all buildings and parking lots, Central Plant backup generator upgrades, installation of destratification fans, enhanced water conservation equipment (including irrigation and swimming pool controls), and more. All told, the project will replace 21,000 light fixtures, as well as every toilet, shower head, urinal, and faucet aerator on campus, leading to a huge reduction in electricity consumption (nearly 5 million kilowatt hours per year), natural gas consumption (over 225,000 BTUs each year), and water consumption (almost 10 million gallons of water per year).
“We’re excited to partner with McKinstry on this sustainability and solar energy project to reduce WSU’s environmental impact while dramatically improving campus energy and water efficiency,” said Nathan Engstrom, WSU’s campus sustainability and planning director and LESS project manager. “This initiative will remove $7.5 million of deferred maintenance from the university’s backlog, allowing us to reduce maintenance expenditures, modernize and improve facilities, increase comfort and aesthetics, and – most importantly – improve the educational experience for our students, faculty, and staff.”
Work on the project is expected to be completed by August 2022. To learn more about the project, visit: wsu.mn/LESS.
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