Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Peter D. Howe


Peter D. Howe


Jessica Schad


Sarah Klain


Since 2019, solar energy has represented the largest portion of new electricity generating capacity in the United States. Previous research on who is likely to have installed solar panels on their homes has found some traits, such as political ideology and income, are associated with solar installations but conclusions are inconsistent. This research takes a novel approach by examining how the presence of solar panels, both at the individual and neighborhood level can correlate with an individual’s civic engagement and other characteristics - such as opinions about climate change and energy policies. I analyze multiple waves, or iterations, of large nationally representative georeferenced survey data from the Climate Change in the American Mind (CCAM) project and investigate the influence of residential solar on an individual’s actions and opinions. I determine the solar rate of a neighborhood by using dated satellite imagery combined with the location provided for each survey respondent. The findings show there are significant relationships between solar on one’s home and that individual’s willingness to participate in the environmental civic engagement activities of volunteering with an organization working on global warming and their willingness to meet with local politicians about global warming. A significant association was found between neighborhood solar rate and the opinion that local officials should be doing more to address global warming.