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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Masters Field Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Laninga, Tamara Jean

Second Advisor

Swisher, Joel N.


Higher education institutions equip their graduates with the skills and knowledge to become leaders and future problem-solvers. Increasingly, higher education institutions are seeking ways to lead in sustainability and ensure a legacy of progressive environmental change. One option for these institutions to enhance sustainability is to hosting community solar projects. Community Solar, defined by Northwest SEED, is a voluntary solar program providing power and/or financial benefits to, or is owned by, multiple community members. This research details two potential community solar models for higher education institutions: non-profit and for-profit. Through informal interviews with key informants, National Renewable Energy Laboratory technical assistance, undergraduate research and financial modeling the non-profit option is recommended. Using upfront payments from community solar participants, a Western Washington University Foundation partnership, federal tax incentives, value of energy produced and a university buyout, the non-profit community solar project is feasible to be hosted at Western Washington University. Being a community solar host provides higher education institutions with a means of decreasing community carbon emissions, increasing access to renewable energy, advancing institution-community relations, normalizing renewable energy for students, providing faculty and student research opportunities, and positioning these institutions as leaders in sustainability.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Western Washington University--Environmental aspects--Case studies

Subject – LCSH

Universities and colleges--Environmental aspects--United States; Solar energy--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.