American Univesity of Beirut

AUB’s latest step towards sustainability: harvesting energy from the sun on the Agriculture Building’s rooftop

​​​​​​​​​​​Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications,​​

The Agriculture Building's rooftop at AUB witnessed the installation of a new system of solar panels that will generate useful energy to be used across campus. This step is part of an overall strategy leading towards a more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient campus, that AUB has been working on and successfully implementing for around 20 years .

The energy generated by the new system of solar panels will save the university and its community, annually, over 53,000 liters of diesel fuel, and more than 300 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.

This approach of sustainable design is also evident in other recent construction projects such as the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB), the Irani Oxy Engineering Complex (IOEC), the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), the Halim & Aida Daniel Academic and Clinical Center (ACC), and the Penrose men's dormitory building, among others.

For example, the Charles Hostler Student Center, which was completed more than 13 years ago, includes several energy-efficient features such as rain and gray water collection, solar water heating, sensor-operated faucets, slab cooling (energy efficient techniques to cool floors and ceilings), and low-e glazing (glass that reduces heat loss and heat gain).

This consistent drive toward sustainability allowed AUB to secure a LEED gold standard certification for renovation of the Penrose dormitory and for construction of the IOEC building. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, and their certificates, issued by the US Green Building Council, represent a symbol of achievement and leadership in sustainability.

More on the new solar panels

The new system of 105kW solar panels will generate more than 160MWh of useful energy, every year.

Electrical Engineer Hisham Ramadan, senior project manager at AUB's Facilities Planning and Design Unit (FPDU), explained that solar energy harvesting is not only environmentally sound but also strategically important to the economy in general, as every 3 kWh produced on a rooftop is one liter less of fuel imports. The Agriculture Building rooftop's 105kW solar panels will generate more than 160MWh of useful energy annually and is estimated to save over $26,000 in energy imports per year.​

He added that the increasing electricity blackouts in Lebanon implies more local pollution, knowing that diesel generator production of electricity is much less efficient than conventional steam power plants used by Electricité du Liban (EDL). For each kWh of electricity produced by a diesel generator, around 2kg of greenhouse gases are emitted in addition to polluting particulates.

Ramadan also confirmed that FPDU has more plans to equip rooftops and facades with solar generating panels in its pursuit to improve energy efficiency on campus.

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