Washington, D.C.’s largest solar canopy was recently unveiled on the grounds of the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus (RIC), located on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus. The installation is part of the District’s Solar for All program and will provide more than 325 income-qualified households with clean, renewable energy and electricity bill savings over the next 15 years.
“When we began to plan the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, we wanted to do more than discover new and better ways to care for children. We also wanted to support the local community,” said Children’s National Hospital President and CEO Kurt Newman, M.D. “I’m proud that we could incorporate the solar design into our campus thereby returning clean energy to the residents of D.C.’s Ward 4 and doing our part to support the environment.”
The District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) awarded Children’s National and partner New Columbia Solar (NCS) with the 2021 District Sustainability Award for the execution of this project.
“I am pleased to celebrate this innovative, award-winning project, accomplished with our partners for the benefit of our residents and community,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “The completion of this project by New Columbia Solar is a tremendous achievement that will not only help to meet Mayor Muriel Bowser’s climate and clean energy goals for the District, but will also help to reduce energy costs for low-income households. The District is proud to be a national leader in sustainability, and this project further demonstrates our commitment to deploying solar and developing scalable solutions in a way that prioritizes equitable access for all.”
The clean energy generated by this solar array, which is on the RIC parking garage, will be distributed through the Solar for All program, Mayor Bowser’s initiative to provide 100,000 low-to-moderate income families with the benefits of locally generated clean energy. This installation will serve more than 325 income-qualified D.C. families, saving each household up to $500 annually and saving these families up to $2.4 million over 15 years.
“This project is the perfect example of why operating a solar company in the District is so rewarding,” said NCS CEO Mike Healy. “I look at this project and see major decision-makers in D.C. coming together, in the middle of a global pandemic, to prioritize powering our city through clean energy and to offset utility expenses for the families in our community who are most in need.”
The installation began when Children’s National acquired a large five-story above-grade parking garage, which provided the perfect location for a cutting-edge solar array. The original goal for the parking garage was always to incorporate a solar array. However, the installation of the 1,148 kW system was an engineering feat, representing one of the District’s most complex solar systems.
Over the past two years operating DOEE’s Solar for All program, the D.C. Solar Energy Utility (DCSEU) has worked with local solar developers to install 130 community solar facilities across the District. These installations are expected to serve more than 4,000 income-qualified D.C. families, with more community solar projects slated to be developed in 2021 to serve an additional 2,000 households.
“It’s an honor to deliver the Solar for All program in partnership with the District government and the D.C. business community,” said DCSEU Director Ted Trabue. “These projects bring opportunities to District businesses, jobs to D.C. residents and critical electricity bill savings to families who need it, all while helping work toward a carbon-free D.C.”
As part of the larger commitment of Children’s National to positively impact the environment and the community, the organization has formed a Sustainability Council with the overall purpose to build a long-term commitment to sustainable practices; integrate sustainability in the areas of education, research, operations and community service; and incorporate sustainable designs in future construction plans.