UNMC: Maurer Center for Public Health
The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) made headway on their emissions-based goals by installing 1,487 solar panels on several of their buildings, including the Maurer Center for Public Health (MCPH). The MCPH has been the home to UNMC’s College of Public Health since 2007. The building is 62,600 square feet and features technologically enhanced smart rooms.More
UNMC is one of the University of Nebraska’s four campuses and the only publicly supported health sciences center in the state of Nebraska. Since 2010, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has built a foundation in sustainability by explicitly connecting human health and the environment to actions taken by the Medical Center. The Medical Center established six 2030 sustainability goals around emissions reductions, water-saving strategies, maintaining campus density, zero waste, green transportation, and increasing campus engagement. UNMC’s long-term goal is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 (zero net emissions) and includes achieving net-zero building emissions by 2030.
While the number of buildings, students, and staff have increased, recent initiatives have still reduced the campus’s energy load from 29 MW to 23 MW, unrelated to the solar installation.Less
In 2018, UNMC developed a rooftop solar installation project, consisting of 1,487 solar panels atop three campus buildings. The project came online in January 2019, with panels installed on top of the Sorrell Center, the Truhlsen Eye Institute, and the Maurer Center for Public Health.
UNMC’s new solar installation can generate up to 500 kilowatts of solar-powered electricity to help power the campus. The Maurer Center for Public Health has seen significant savings as a result. From January 2019 to the end of 2020, the MCPH solar array produced nearly 145 MWh of energy, with 2019 accounting for 70 MWh of production.More
The arrays, each comprised of between 200 to 900 individual panels, are arranged in an east/west-facing configuration to optimize energy production. Each array powers its own building first, with any remaining electricity going to other campus buildings. UNMC monitors the solar data on a public dashboard, where users can see energy generated from the system by day, week, month, billing cycle, and year. Real-time current power generation is tracked in 15-minute intervals, as well as the cumulative energy production for the day and current month-to-date. A second chart provides a year-over-year comparison, so users can compare the production over time.
The Maurer Center for Public Health has a large surface-area-to-volume ratio and poor envelope. To alleviate this, more sensitive building pressurization programs were utilized, including segmenting each HVAC system to neutralize the zone pressure to the outside. Additionally, an LED lighting system was installed that has occupancy capabilities, allowing occupancy to be communicated to the HVAC system. This turned lights off, allowed airflow to turn down, and kept floating temperatures in unoccupied mode. The combination of these energy efficiency efforts and the solar installation has produced an energy savings of 45% at the Maurer Center for Public Health.Less
The solar installation has helped reduce emissions for UNMC by providing zero-carbon energy to the Medical Center. The dashboard also shares information on environmental benefits, including CO2 emissions saved and equivalent trees planted. As of January 2021, the system had saved over 230,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, equivalent to planting over 1,750 trees. The combined rooftop installation is also the largest in the state of Nebraska, providing energy savings equal to the annual average electricity production of 60 homes.More
The project is also providing local utility Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) with solar photovoltaic (PV) data for the next two years, helping the company study the technology’s impact on reducing peak energy usage on hot summer days, and providing a model in which they can use when proving value to energy solutions. Additionally, the public dashboard increases the visibility of the efforts UNMC is taking towards sustainability, allowing the community to feel more connected to the medical center and university at large.Less