UCSF Sustainability Stories

UCSF Mission Bay Solar Energy Project—Generating over 60 percent of the 3rd Street Garage’s Energy

Solar panels 1

Many of the strategies to reduce energy use at UCSF happen behind the scenes, invisible to staff and visitors. However, at the 3rd Street Garage at Mission Bay, UCSF has installed solar panels on the roof and south side of the garage.

The thin black panels might seem decorative in nature, but are actually a 250-kilowatt (KW) solar energy project.

“In 2009, the solar panels generated 61 percent of the electricity needed to power the garage,” said Kevin Cox, associate director of UCSF’s Transportation Services.

According to Cox, in peak summer months (June – September), the panels generate enough energy to meet the needs of the garage, which is mostly lighting and elevators. The system saves the campus approximately $33,000 in energy costs each year and reduces UCSF’s carbon footprint by 100 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

The University of California (UC) Board of Regents has mandated that the UC campuses together produce 10 megawatts of renewable energy from solar, biomass, landfill gas and hydroelectric power by 2014.

To help reach this goal, if the funds can be raised, the new Mission Bay Medical Center includes plans to install a 500 KW photovoltaic system on the roof and parking structure, with an estimated annual yield of 1,279,092 kWh per year.  Once installed, the Mission Bay system would reduce CO2 output by 390 tons per year.