Campus Energy Reduction Planning and Evaluating Cost Savings from Solar PV and Storage at Universities Using the New REopt Web Tool

Rachel Shepherd, U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Energy Management Program
Emma Elgqvist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Otto Van Geet, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This presentation will cover a process to reduce campus energy use and then meet the remaining campus energy needs with renewable energy. Research campuses consume more energy per square foot than most facilities. They also have greater opportunities to reduce energy consumption and implement renewable energy systems. The presentation will cover a five-step process to develop and implement campus energy reduction plans:

  1. Determine Baseline Energy Consumption
  2. Analyze Technology Options
  3. Prepare a Plan and Set Priorities
  4. Implement the Climate Action Plan
  5. Measure & Evaluate Progress

The process follows a logical hierarchy of actions to evaluate options by energy sector and set specific targets. It encompasses every energy system on campus, recognizing that campus-wide measures have greater potential for reducing carbon emissions.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed the Climate Neutral Research Campus web site and a unique energy planning platform called REopt that can be used to evaluate a mix of renewable and conventional energy sources to meet targets such as lowering the lifecycle cost of energy, or planning for a net zero campus. With funding from DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), NREL is launching a publically available web tool version of the REopt platform that estimates the optimal size of PV and battery that minimizes the cost of energy to a site. The tool allows homeowners, building owners, and installers to evaluate the economics of PV and battery storage. This session will give participants a demo of the tool, and give an overview of tool inputs and outputs, as well as benefits and use cases.

Through the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Sunshot Initiative, NREL has also partnered with 15 universities to provide renewable energy screenings using REopt. This session will provide an overview of how solar PV and battery storage systems can be used to lower the lifecycle cost of electricity through energy and demand savings. It will feature a summary and highlights of the university screenings including frequently asked questions and lessons learned. Examples of universities using solar will be presented.

This session will conclude with a 15 minute Questions and Answers section.

Learning Objectives

Attendees will learn about:

  • A framework for reducing energy use on research campuses
  • Reaching net zero electricity with renewable energy
  • Using the REopt web tool to evaluate the economics of solar and storage
  • Renewable energy project at universities


Rachel Shepherd works within the Technical Services team as the Renewable Energy Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). In this role, Shepherd manages a team to provide technical assistance to federal agencies in order to accomplish their renewable energy related goals yielding sustainable, environmentally-responsible, and economically-sound approaches to renewable energy policy development and project implementation. Prior to FEMP, Shepherd was a project engineer conducting energy audits and retro-commissioning studies for existing commercial and industrial facilities. She worked with building owners to identify and prioritize deployment of energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects. Shepherd holds a bachelor's degree in applied physics from the University of Maryland.

Emma Elgqvist is an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO. As part of the REopt team, Emma’s work includes providing technical assistance and deployment guidance on RE technologies to meet aggressive energy goals, conducting renewable energy screenings, and evaluating RE and storage deployment potential. Emma also leads the NREL efforts of FEMP's technical assistance program and portal which provides agencies with support in the most critical areas of RE project development. Emma holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MS in Engineering Management from the Colorado School of Mines.

Otto Van Geet is a Principal Engineer at NREL with over 30 years of experience. Otto has been involved in the design, and operation of energy efficient research facilities such as labs and data centers, general use facilities, and low energy use campus and community design. Otto was one of the founding members of the Labs21 program and provides technical guidance for the program. Otto is a Registered Professional Engineer, a Certified Energy Manager, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a Project Manager.


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