“Sometimes leadership means going first,” Richmond president Ronald Crutcher said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first solar array of its kind to be used in Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Crutcher led the ceremony in front of an audience of educators, students, conservationists, politicians and engineers Tuesday morning. The congregation of great minds gathered on the east patio beside the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness roof to praise and view the new 205-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array that was installed this month on the roof of the center.

McAuliffe explained that he had wanted to be present at the event to show his support of conservation efforts. The governor praised Richmond for its commitment to making the campus and community a greener environment.

“I don’t get out of bed wanting to be second,” McAuliffe said of Virginia’s national standings in environmental sustainability. “We need to send the signal that we are the greatest state, in the greatest nation on the globe.”

The ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the first solar array project installed in the Commonwealth under a new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) pilot program.

“Change and innovation are possible when we work together,” said Rob Andrejewski, Richmond’s first director of sustainability, at the event. “Today we usher in a new era of sustainability at the University of Richmond.”

The new array consists of 749 panels that cover about 22,000 square feet of the rooftop. Cynthia Price, Richmond’s director of media and public relations, said that 76 percent of the panels were bifacial, which allows them to collect direct solar energy from the front as well as ambient energy from the back.

The solar photovoltaic array will generate enough energy to offset one residence hall and potentially the emission of more than 364,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. The new array is one product of Richmond’s green initiative since it signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, effectively committing Richmond to a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, on its way to climate neutrality by 2050.

“My peers and I feel involved in an ongoing conversation on sustainability,” sophomore Zoe Kolberg-Shuler said at the event.

The new system was installed at Richmond through a PPA with Virginia-based solar developer Secure Futures. The Virginia General Assembly enacted the PPA pilot program in 2013. The agreement has since been in effect for the Dominion Virginia Power service territory.

"The University of Richmond solar project represents a highly visibly landmark for solar energy in Virginia, achieving new technical and policy breakthroughs for advancing clean energy in the Commonwealth,” Anthony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures, told Richmond.

Andrejewski, who was hired as director of sustainability in April of 2015, is one of the many officials at Richmond dedicated to making the campus a greener and cleaner environment.

“Sustainability is woven into the fabric of the University of Richmond," he said. "Everyone has a role to play in managing our commitments and creating positive change.”

Contact news writer Claire Comey at claire.comey@richmond.edu