Renewable Energy

NAU is committed to lowering our carbon footprint in order to create a more sustainable future for our campus and community. Through the purchasing and utilization of renewable, we are offsetting some of the negative externalities that result from our fossil fuel use and doing our part to support America's transition to a clean energy economy. The campus is currently using renewable wind and solar technologies and is investigating opportunities to utilize the vast ponderosa pine forests around us for biomass electricity or heat production. 

Join NAU's Energy Action Team to help reduce our emissions and develop more renewable energy projects on and off campus.

Interested in getting solar on your own home? Check out Let's Go Solar to learn more.

Current Installments

Solar PV - San Francisco Garage
This is a 561.6 kW array and is expected to produce over 921,858 kilowatt hours annually. The canopies are designed to provide shade to 155 parking spaces and the entire array will offset 648 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
NAU's electric utility, APS, is providing tens of thousands in annual subsidies to help make the project feasible. The Green Fund is contributing $1,000,000 a year for 10 years to advance contribute to the effort.
Install Date: April, 2017
Solar Air Heaters - Property Surplus



NAU's first on-campus solar thermal air panel system was installed in 2014 through a Green Fund proposal. The six-panel system was installed on the south side of the Property Surplus warehouse. The wall-mounted system is 24 feet wide by 8 feet high and can generate more than 40,000 BTUs per hour of fossil-free heat energy. This single installation reduces CO2e by over 3 tons per year.
Read the full Press Release.

Solar Hot Air and Solar PV at Construction Management
This Green Fund proposal for $20,774 was granted to install five hot air heaters and six PV solar panels to be installed on the Construction Management Lab. This project works toward offsetting NAU’s carbon footprint as well as implements solar technologies into the Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering (CECMEE) department research and curriculum. This project gives students a real world opportunity to work hands on with diverse solar technology. Visit this online portal to view the solar PV production in real time.
Installed: 2016
Solar PV - South Field
 Solar Project

NAU’s solar field on-campus was generously donated by NAU’s utility company, APS. The system was installed in 2007 to accompany the LEED Platinum certification of the Applied Research and Development building. The 163-kilowatt photovoltaic system is designed to supply at least 20 percent of the ARD building's electrical needs. The system originally tracked the sun east to west to maximize efficiency but the tracking system stopped working in 2012. In January of 2015 an engineering class submitted a Green Fund proposal to optimize the angle of the panels and put them at a 5 percent east facing slant. That effort should help to improve efficiency by at least 20%.
Solar PV - International Pavilion

IP Solar Picture Website 

Located on the roof of the NAU International Pavilion is a 35 kw solar panel array system. The building was designed to use less electricity than what can be generated from the solar array. What this means is the building will use less energy than what it can produce which will allow more power into the power grid for other uses on campus. The pavilion is the first NAU academic building to have a solar power system and is targeted for NetZero or better energy use performance. Get data on the IP's energy use and production in real time by view its Lucid Energy Dashboard.
Learn more about all the green components of the International Pavilion.

Solar Hot Water - ARD & HLC
 ARD solar

NAU’s LEED Gold Health and Learning Center (HLC) and the LEED Platinum Applied Research and Development (ARD) buildings both have hot water heating systems.
The HLC system is 102 panels, 5300 sq ft and supplies 70% of the HLC hot water use (6% of total building energy).
The ARD has 2 panels and helps to heat water for the shower and bathrooms.
Solar Wall - Distance Learning

Distance Learning Solar Wall picture 

When project architect Burns Wald-Hopkins Shambach Architects started work on the new Distance Learning Facility at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, they were targeting a LEED® silver rating. In order to achieve this LEED® status they implemented a variety of green technologies. The most prominent green technology being a south-facing SolarWall® solar air heating system. The SolarWall® system was chosen because it provides fresh solar heated ventilation air in the winter, and acts as a shading screen during the summer. The SolarWall® system provides exceptional air quality for the classrooms, faculty offices, and a new television studio that make up the new building. The SolarWall® system also qualifies for up to 6 LEED® points.

More explanation of what a Solar Wall is.

More info on NAU's SolarWall and it's specifications


Wind - HRM, ARD, and Solar Shack

 wind turbine

The campus has multiple wind turbines; one 2.4 kWh in front of the Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) building, one 2.4 kWh turbine next to the Applied Research and Development (ARD) building, two smaller turbines at the Solar Shack (NAU's renewable energy testing facility). The data from all of these turbines is used in NAU engineering courses and by K-12 schools around the country.
Read the HRM turbine blog post


Interested in seeing how our turbines are producing? Visit: 

Energy Credits

Renewable Energy Credits

 Green Power Partner Logo
Read Green NAU's Blog for an explanation of Renewable Energy Certificates.
What is a Renewable Energy Credit (REC)? Watch the U.S. EPA's short video on "RECs: Making Green Power Possible"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated NAU as the Conference Champion in EPA’S College & University Green Power Challenge!
Read the Green Power Partnership blog post

In 2013, NAU began purchasing 10% of it's electricity from APS's Green Choice program
In 2015, we began purchasing 15% of our annual electricity from 3Degrees.
The Green-e certified projects we are supporting are from 100% wind farms.

Research Initiatives

In 2014, NAU completed a biomass feasibility study to assess three possible scenarios for integrating biomass energy onto campus.  
Read the Feasibility Study

Check out our page on Biomass 
Renewable Energy Research
NAU participates in a wide range of Engineering research encompassing the major renewable energy technologies and issues. The Sustainable Energy Laboratory or the “Solar Shack” as it is fondly referred to is an instructional and research facility for the development of sustainable energy technologies like wind, solar, and hydrogen. The shack also houses two wind turbines and a variety of solar panels.