How schools are going solar
Tuesday, November 06, 2018
The Solar Schools 2025 initiative seeks to target 50 schools each year to buddy up and go solar. The initiative, launched by the nonprofit Renewable Nation, encourages K-12 schools to increase photovoltaic panel usage and do their part in saving the planet.
Many schools and districts are willing but administrators are unsure about the process, time frame and costs involved. The "buddy system" will help solve these issues by pairing up schools that want to go solar with schools that have already done so.
Nine out of 10 schools in the U.S. that are solar-ready have not yet gone solar yet. Therefore, there is immense potential to be harnessed. Studies show that if 450 U.S. school districts install solar, they could each save more than $1 million over 30 years.
Schools that have been at the forefront of solar energy adoption have reported an increase in students interested in STEM subjects. They are witnessing real change and this acts as an inspiration for them.
On the economic side, solar would help lower the energy bills and send funds back into the cash-strapped school districts. They can now free up resources and use this money for other core programs.
Many schools around the country are also reporting progress to extend their energy conservation efforts. Dade County High School in Trenton, Georgia, recently made news for partnering with Creative Solar USA and completing the installation of a solar generation facility on its roof. Funded by a grant from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the 60-kilowatt installation will help the school reduce energy, utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions in school operations.
In related news, the Tucson Unified School District recently announced the completion of a 23.8-megawatt solar generation project. They now boast of having the most extensive solar portfolio in the state. The project will account for 47 percent of the district’s annual electricity use and prevent the release of 31,000 metric tons of carbon emissions every year.
Meanwhile, Horry County (South Carolina) Schools has set a new precedent. Four new middle schools and a new elementary school have achieved an "energy-positive" status.
These schools have installed a centralized geothermal system, daylighting, dynamic air-filtration system, hollow-core concrete floors and ceilings that also house the buildings' ductwork and LED lighting along with solar panels. Together, they generate 10 percent more energy than they consume.
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