While UCSB has implemented some renewable and energy efficiency technologies, including the 5.2 Megawatt solar PV array coming online soon, procuring more solar energy to meet the campus goal of 11 total MW by 2025 must be a part of the campus’s long-term vision in order to be carbon neutral by that same year. 

We focused our attention on onsite solar PV for a number of reasons:

  1. Emissions from purchased electricity represent a sizable portion, roughly a third, of UCSB’s total GHG emissions.
  2. The use of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) removes the need for upfront capital and makes it one of the most attractive initial options for UCSB to achieve its CNI goals.
  3. Campus planners lacked an in- depth assessment of the solar PV potential of campus buildings and there was urgency for information to be streamlined as the demand for solar projects on campus increases.

We evaluated and prioritized building rooftops based on solar irradiation potential and building characteristics to determine which buildings UCSB Facilities Management should prioritize when considering additional onsite solar development. By comparing project characteristics with actual insolation received, we identified 18 rooftops as suitable for solar panel installations. The total capacity left on the main campus is an estimated 4.0 to 5.6 MW. Installing solar panels to the maximum capacity will provide between 5,450 to 7,526 MWh per year for UCSB and reduce GHG emissions by 1,395 to 1,927 MTCO2e annually.


One of UCSB’s  5 solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays that generates clean energy for the campus. Source: UCSB Utility & Energy Services
 Our recommendations:
  • Install solar panels to meet the estimated rooftop capacity of main campus by targeting high priority rooftops first.
  • Prioritize rooftops on the DM list with high solar insolation.
  • Incorporate solar rooftop potential in green building standards.
  • Take advantage of sloped roofs with high solar potential.
  • Consider shading of solar panels when planting trees.

We hope that our recommendations can help UCSB decision-makers formalize best practices in campus planning and increase the pace of solar PV adoption on campus in order to optimize the financial and emissions benefits from this technology.