Norfolk Academy Goes Solar

This month our long-time client Norfolk Academy completed the installation of one of Virginia's largest rooftop solar arrays at a private institution. Hanbury assisted NA by calculating potential energy savings and developing conceptual strategies and rooftop panel placement, while adhering to utility program requirements to fund and facilitate solar on non-profit properties.

Norfolk Academy's growing interest in sustainability has been driven in part by the school's Batten Leadership Program Chesapeake Bay Fellows, where the students have been researching the restoration and conservation of the Chesapeake Bay. Led by program director Chris Nelson, students initially implemented a robust lunchtime and campus-wide waste diversion and composting effort in 2013. An extensive solar array was first proposed as part of the school's multi-year, comprehensive fundraising campaign, Defining Leadership: The Campaign for 2028; it is Norfolk Academy's first major renewable energy effort. The generosity of environmentally conscious Norfolk Academy families financed the project.

The array, distributed across the Lower and Middle School buildings, along with panels on the Maintenance Building, fully powers Academy's new Hanbury-designed, James B. Massey Jr. Leadership Center — making it a net zero building and on the path to LEED Gold certification. The total of 1,989 panels, installed by Virginia Beach based Convert Solar, provide 646KW of electricity — enough to fully power 43 typical homes. At an average electricity cost of 25 cents per kWh, the solar panels provide an approximate savings of $161 per hour in electricity during peak production hours.

"Sustainability is a long-term commitment for our school, and there is no plan for this to be a 'pilot' or short-term experiment," according to Headmaster Dennis Manning. Norfolk Academy's interest in this installation goes beyond renewable energy. Visible from the second floor of both the Massey Center and a recent Hanbury-designed addition to the Lower School, the array is a daily reminder to students, staff and parents alike of NA's commitment to sustainability. Manning notes that there will soon be three touch kiosks on campus, stating, "we are using [this project] as an educational asset for our students as they learn about solar energy, as well as our own energy consumption patterns on campus."

The impact of this investment extends beyond Norfolk Academy's reduced carbon footprint. Through its commitment to sustainability, these current students and future leaders are being exposed to our planet's problems in a solutions-minded approach. Norfolk Academy students will be better poised to imagine and deliver a cleaner future for us all.


This post was written with contributions from Jimmy Stevens, LEED AP

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