New solar panels on Kirby Sports Center pave the way for greener future


Photo by © Chuck Zovko / Zovko Photograp for The Lafayette

The new solar panels, atop Kirby Sports Center are a large step towards Lafayette sustainability initiatives. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College website)

By Tyler Makover, Contributing Writer

This month, Lafayette College took a major step toward advancing its carbon neutrality commitment pledge. As of March 1, the college’s on-campus solar array is operational on the roof of Kirby Sports Center.

The array is expected to generate around 540-megawatt hours of renewable energy annually while powering operations at the sports center. According to the Lafayette College Sustainability report, the solar array will offset 9,625 metric tons of CO2 over its lifetime of around 30 years. This is the equivalent of taking more than 2,000 cars off the road in the time the solar panel is in use, the promotional video reported.

Installation of the 470k watt solar panels began in June of last year. The college contracted CustomerFirst Renewables for preliminary planning and later worked with commercial solar energy companies Pfister Energy and Greenskies Clean Energy. Pfister Energy managed engineering and construction, whereas Greenskies financed the solar operations. Many students were also hired as interns for the installation project.

Sustainability Director Delicia Nahman outlined the goals that the college will strive for with this feat accomplished. She said that the solar panels are a great way for Lafayette to achieve carbon neutrality and live the values of sustainability every day.

“This project has a broad array of opportunities for application across campus,” Nahman said. “It allows us to answer questions around how we might craft energy policy differently than we do today or how might we need to think more creatively about engineering solutions for a cleaner, more just transition to a low carbon future.”

Remy Oktay ‘23,  a member of the Student Government Sustainability Committee, has assisted in the development of this project with Lafayette College from the planning to installation stages. He echoed the excitement of the team that all the work can now be put to good use and is looking forward to how this spurs more sustainability projects on campus in the future.

“It’s really nice being able to see the panels while walking on campus at Kirby Sports Center, which is a great reminder throughout the day of the college’s commitment to our climate action plan, as well as reaching carbon neutrality by 2035,” Oktay said. “I’m really excited to see more projects like this implemented throughout campus.”

For more information on the project, visit the Lafayette College sustainability dashboard, where there are daily updates for sustainability statistics on campus. 

The article has been updated to reflect that the panels on Kirby Sport Center are not the first operational solar arrays on campus. The first solar array that became operational on main campus is on the Acopian Engineering Center.