Academics and Research

Renewable energy course addresses DU’s sustainability objectives

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law worked with DU’s Center for Sustainability and Sustainability Council to create the Renewable Energy Law Project, a spring semester class taught by Professor K. K. DuVivier. The class brings together graduate students from DU’s law, business and engineering programs to assist the University in meeting the sustainability objectives of IMPACT 2025, the University’s new strategic plan.

“We are the only university in Colorado without some form of renewable energy generation or certificate option,” DuVivier says. “Over the past few years, DU’s Center for Sustainability and a grassroots student organization called DU Solar have sought to develop solar projects on campus. None have yet come to fruition.”

Students in the Renewable Energy Law Project class first divided into groups to analyze such areas as finance, location, design, affordability and return on investment to provide a detailed look into the feasibility of solar energy for DU. Potential projects included participation in a community solar garden, microgrids, and commercial property-assessed clean energy financing.

“Some of the most promising projects were based on groundwork laid by DU Solar for possible solar arrays on the flat-roof areas of the Ritchie Center or Anderson Academic Commons,” DuVivier says. “For example, the proposed array on the Gates Field House and Joy Burns Arena could generate up to 10 percent of the energy used for the Ritchie Center and provide substantial savings on energy costs.”

The course has provided lessons in persistence, communication, teamwork and presentation skills, DuVivier says. “Flexibility has also been key as various projects sifted to the top and then sometimes were rejected,” she says. “One of the lessons my students are taking away from this course is that real life is not predictable. Having a meritorious project is often not enough; you also need patience and perseverance.”

The students will present their proposals at the Sustainability Council’s monthly meeting on April 21. Before then, they are asking everyone in the DU community — students, faculty, staff and alumni — to weigh in by taking their online survey.






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