It’s another kind of “race to the top” as American University joined a number of other Washington area schools in announcing the installation of solar power systems.

(By Jeff Watts/American University)

The school says the solar system will provide hot water for more than 2,000 students living on campus and for its largest dining hall.

AU announced last spring that it plans to become carbon-neutral by 2020, and all of the electricity it is buying comes from wind power. The university says it also plans to install a wind turbine on top of a parking garage and a generator that runs on used cooking oil from the campus dining hall.

Catholic University, however, has a solar-powered picnic table and just announced plans to add 440 new solar panels to its existing 1,000; Bullis School, Sheridan School, Sidwell Friends and others have recently announced installation of solar arrays in a a type of array-race paid for with a combination of public and private funds.