Washington & Lee University

Seeing the future in a new light

In December, 2011, Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, collaborated with Secure Solar Futures to develop the largest solar energy system in the Commonwealth of Virginia at the time. Solar power at W&L represents a natural outgrowth of the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability and leadership on energy issues. Secure Solar Futures initially owned and operated the W&L solar energy system through a 20-year lease agreement with the option to purchase the system in the future. In 2017, after having seen the high performance of the solar array over the previous five years, the university exercised its option to purchase the system from Secure Solar Futures.

The School of Law’s Lewis Hall hosts 1,016 SunPower solar PV panels with a capacity of 325 kW. A custom-designed steel solar canopy constructed over the university’s parking deck supports 540 Sanyo solar PV panels rated at 119 kW. Altogether, both solar arrays hold 1,556 solar panels, all made in the United States.

W&L ranks as one of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools for the numerous improvements it has made in energy efficiency and resource conservation to meet its general sustainability goals and its pledges under agreements including the Presidents’ Climate Commitment and the Talloires Declaration. To save energy, the university has instituted a temperature regulation policy, has installed energy-saving equipment and, in 2010, committed $5 million as part of its Five for Five Project of major overhauls to campus buildings and comfort systems planned to pay for themselves in energy savings within five years.


W&L Online Solar Dashboard

The Challenge

Provide an affordable way to utilize solar power

The Result

A 444-kilowatt solar photovoltaic energy system at two locations on campus, producing enough clean energy to power the equivalent of about 450 average American homes