Bringing together solar engineering, technology, and finance for better education

How Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) uses clean energy resources to better educate future leaders and achieve Net-Zero energy structure.


0of solar energy across 9 campuses
0Produced Annually (Est.)
99in savings over 20 years (Est.)

The Challenge

The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) consists of 12 community colleges, four state universities, and one online college. CSCU strives to sustain and enhance the quality, affordability, and accessibility of education for all who attend. As a believer in clean energy and sustainable initiatives, CSCU made commitments to become carbon neutral and started looking for a partner in 2016 to start a solar project at Southern Connecticut State University through a Request for Proposal (RFP). As a large University with multiple campuses and different opportunities for solar configurations, CSCU was looking for a partner that could not only deliver on maximizing the campus’s solar production capacity, but also a partner that could take on the challenge of transforming other campuses into renewable energy opportunities.

The Solution

As the winner of the initial RFP for Southern CT State University, DSD understood that the key to providing the most valuable solution to CSCU was to create additional opportunities for solar within their campus to get them closer to their carbon neutral goals and provide the most amount of savings for the University.

Through the initial analysis, DSD identified the Manchester Community College as the host site for the largest project in CSCU’s portfolio. This site alone is responsible for 45% of the college’s total electricity use.

The Execution

After winning the first RFP with CSCU comprising of Southern CT State University and Manchester Community College, the partnership between DSD and CSCU continues to grow. Since 2016, CSCU has entrusted DSD with additional projects across 7 campuses: Asnuntuck Community College, Central Connecticut State University, Housatonic Community College, Gateway Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Tunxis Community College and Western Connecticut State University utilizing a variety of solar configurations: parking garage canopy, ground-mount and rooftop solar.

With parking typically in high demand at CSCU institutions, it was important to design the systems in a way that didn’t reduce the number of available parking spaces. Overall, the goal was to have the new solar installations blend seamlessly into the campus without impacting accessibility or interrupting campus life.

Construction of a solar project is a significant concern for any large institution, especially a university like CSCU with over 85,000 students. DSD planned the design and installation of the systems to commence during an academic break when students were off campus to minimize disruptions. This approach allowed DSD to not interrupt the normal flow of campus activities and accommodate the University’s needs.

“Projects like this that help the campus reduce its operating budget help students like me to keep our eyes on our educational goals without as much worry about finances.”

Mehwish Afridi
Student Advisory Committee member

The Outcome

The completed portfolio came up to be 10.3 MW, collectively offsetting 49% of energy use for the buildings equipped with solar and achieving Net-Zero for Southern Connecticut State University (the first building in Connecticut state to achieve that). With a Power Purchase Agreement structure, there was no capital expense commitment from CSCU, and the University will only pay the energy they will use, reducing the burden of energy costs across the campuses by purchasing cheaper and cleaner electricity through solar. With DSD’s solar projects the University estimates to save more than $15 million in the next 20 years. These savings can be put to good use by reinvesting in the education of the future leaders attending CSCU.

SCSU CT 3170kW Groundmount

“These projects are a great example of a successful public-private partnership that is not only cost-effective but makes the CSCU system more sustainable for the future.”

Mark Ojakian
President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities

The Impact

0solar energy produced annually
0CO2 avoided annually
0cars of the street each year
0in savings over 20 years (est.)

“It was an honor to partner with CSCU to make this project a success. It’s a great example of how solar can provide savings for the State while supporting sustainability goals and helping stabilize the campus’ power supply.”

DSD CEO Erik Schiemann
Erik Schiemann

CEO, Distributed Solar Development (DSD)

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