The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) selected Boyd Jones as general contractor to install 1,487 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the rooftops of three UNMC buildings. The panels provide UNMC with up to 500 kW of electricity. The arrays are ballasted and arranged in an east- and west-facing configuration that optimizes the volume of energy produced in each square foot of space, which also reduces shading between rows of panels and minimizes the weight on each rooftop. Each building’s respective array comprises between 200 to more than 900 modules. With a design approach that employs string inverters, the system maximizes power density on rooftops where space is at a premium while also curbing losses from shading.
The joint project with the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) represents an important piece of UNMC’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030. Electricity generated from arrays built on top of the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education, the Truhlsen Eye Institute, and the Harold M. and Beverly Maurer Center for Public Health will first power those respective buildings, with any surplus electricity to power other buildings on campus. The project represents the largest rooftop solar project in the state of Nebraska – capable of generating the annual average electricity use of 60 homes – and provides a valuable carbon-free offset to UNMC’s campus energy load of 23 MW. By setting energy use intensity targets for new building construction, updating building systems like lighting and building controls in existing structures, and using a combination of renewable energy both on- and off-site, UNMC is well on the way to meeting its sustainability goals.