By Tish Tablan, National Organizer, Generation 180
More and more schools are taking advantage of their large roofs and open spaces to generate clean power and save money. Solar schools are creating a brighter future by spreading energy awareness to students, parents, and the community.
Generation 180 has recently launched some exciting initiatives to empower schools nationwide to take advantage of all the benefits of solar energy.
We’ve just launched our nationwide Solar Schools campaign, which aims to help schools go solar with greater confidence and success.
We’ve partnered with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association to produce the 2017 Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in US Schools. This report provides the most comprehensive inventory of solar schools across America and shares the successful approaches of schools transitioning to solar power
In addition to the report, Generation 180 offers how-to resources to empower stakeholders to become solar champions who can effectively advocate for solar schools in their own communities.
You Can Help Schools Go Solar
You can help make a brighter future possible. Generation 180 is forming teams of volunteers throughout the country to rally local support from educators, district leaders and community members and providing resources to assist schools in going solar. Contact us to learn about starting a volunteer team in your community. Learn about volunteer teams.
Generation 180 is a non-profit committed to advancing the transition to clean energy and supporting a cultural shift in energy awareness through original, engaging content, digitally-enabled campaigns, and an empowered volunteer network.
Nebraska Solar Schools, founded by Nebraskans for Solar and statewide partners, is a program that provides K-12 educators with resources and tools for incorporating renewable energy education into their classrooms and schools. The resources support Nebraska and national science standards. The program is offered to public and non-public schools, as well as places like schools such as children’s museums, zoos, nature preserves and science and technology centers.
Michigan students in sixth through 12th grade are invited to find ways to use solar energy in their schools as part of a statewide contest. “My Solar School Contest” is a collaborative project of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor and the U.S. Green Building Council Detroit Region, in partnership with Generation 180, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, EcoWorks and the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan Region. More than 5,500 schools across the country are investing in solar installations and educating students about clean energy.
Click hereto continue reading. And here for more information on the My Solar School Contest.
Report Release: Solar Energy Industries Association,
The Solar Foundation and Generation 180
There are approximately 5,500 schools across the country with solar installations that are saving money on electric bills, educating students about clean energy, and ensuring a brighter future for the next generation. A dramatic decline in the cost of solar panels combined with new financing options has now made solar widely accessible, creating tremendous untapped potential among the majority of our schools still without solar.
SEIA, along with partners at The Solar Foundation and Generation 180, have developed Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, a comprehensive report that explores the current state of solar deployment on K-12 schools nationwide. The report, available via the link below, includes analysis and case studies, but if you would like to view a full database of the U.S. schools with solar systems, download the spreadsheet here.
The largest solar project ever built to serve a Minnesota school district began producing energy last week. The Farmington public school district’s 3.1 megawatt (MW) project places photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of several buildings. The first project to go live is the 715 kilowatt, 2,200 panel installation on the roof of Dodge Middle School, with more buildings to follow. Once fully completed next year, the project will be one of the biggest rooftop solar photovoltaic installations ever built in Minnesota by a government entity. Read more here.
Photo by Farmington Area Public Schools
As in Minnesota, Nebraska K-12 schools, colleges and universities have the option of investing in solar through third-party financing, or in some communities such as Kearney, subscribing to a community solar development.
Model for Nebraska: Solar4Schools, which Frank Jossi references in his article, is a program created by IPS Solar that, for over a decade, has installed PV arrays at a number of Minnesota K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. These include: Macalester College, Northland College, St Johns University, St Olaf College, University of Minnesota and University of St Thomas.
FREMONT, INDIANA: The residents of this small town in America’s upper Midwest have always relied on the sun to warm their fields and draw tourists to their lakes. Now school superintendent William Stitt said they’re counting on it to power their schools. “The technology has advanced so much in the last couple of years that it’s become more energy efficient, more cost effective for schools to get solar energy,” Stitt said. Construction of the solar project will cost $3 million. But when finished, it will completely power the elementary, middle and high school buildings. It may generate so much electricity, that the school will be able to sell some back to the power company at a profit. Read more.
LOWELL — The Tri-Creek School Board has moved on its long-anticipated solar energy project, awarding contracts for the installation of solar panel arrays at four of the district’s five schools. Midwest Wind & Solar of Griffith working with South Bend-based Inovateus won the contract for Oak Hill, Lake Prairie and Three Creeks elementary school installations with bids not to exceed $543,463, $525,423, and $454,757, respectively. GRNE Solutions’ bid of $1,462,649 earned the Omaha, Nebraska company the Lowell Middle School part of the project. Continue reading.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING Tri-Creek School Board advances solar project
Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Ave., already is home to solar panel arrays which were used as an outdoor classroom during the installation. The panels offset energy costs at the school and the transportation building adjacent to Lowell Middle School. Superintendent Debra Howe has said the hope is to get totally off the grid and be self-sustaining.
SIX SCHOOL DISTRICTS & TWO STATES ARE AMONG FIRST AIMING TO MAKE ZERO ENERGY SCHOOLS MAINSTREAM
As a part of the Obama Administration’s effort to cut energy waste in America’s buildings, today the Energy Department launched the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. Six school districts, two states and several national organizations are working collaboratively to develop zero energy design that is cost-competitive to conventional construction in the education sector and in local communities across the nation. A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building, where on a source energy basis, the actual delivered energy is less than or equal to the onsite renewable exported energy.
In conjunction with the launch, Energy Department officials joined other key stakeholders today to tour Discovery Elementary School, a Zero Energy school located near the nation’s capital in Arlington, Virginia, which officially opened its doors in September 2015. Discovery’s engineering team expects to offset its energy usage with renewable energy and to potentially save about $75,000 within its first year of operation. Discovery Elementary is one of 40 emerging Zero Energy ready schools in the U.S., and was built with advanced next generation energy efficiency and renewable power features, including solar rooftop and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Click here for additional details, including a list of the first participating school districts.
Photo: Discovery Elementary, a zero energy school in Arlington, Virginia
Nebraska Solar Schools launched the Adopt-A-School Program last week at the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science (NATS) Fall Conference. The Adopt-A-School Program is for Nebraska educators at public and non-public schools, as well as places like schools, who are interested in collaborating with potential funders to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at their school and/or purchase solar energy kits, books and other educational materials.
The Adopt-A-School Program also seeks funding partners: philanthropists, foundations, and businesses interested in collaborating with a Nebraska school or a place like a school that wants to “go solar.” For more information, visit: www.nebraskasolarschools.org
Current discussions on how to improve education have focused on better teachers, better technology and more funding (which deepens the debate on who should pay for it). But consider that each year K–12 schools spend more than $8 billion on energy — more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined. Too commonly overlooked is the opportunity to cost-effectively improve our nation’s schools and enhance student performance by tackling the performance of the very buildings in which children, faculty and staff spend more than eight hours each day. With energy costs averaging about $300 per student per year, cash-strapped districts have found improving energy performance as the best way to lower operating and maintenance costs.Click to read more
Photo: Schools that integrate solar panels onto their campuses can teach valuable hands-on lessons to students about physics, technology and global stewardship. Credit: Shutterstock / pisaphotography
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING The enormous scale of all the energy that we never used, by Chris Mooney, The Washington Post Click here to download the new American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE) Report that Mooney references in his article: The Greatest Energy Story You Haven’t Heard: How Investing in Energy Efficiency Changed the US Power Sector and Gave Us a Tool to Tackle Climate Change
Four Farmington, Minn., schools should have solar panels on their roofs by the end of September.The school board on Monday approved a contract with Edina-based Sundial Solar Energy to put solar panels on Boeckman and Dodge middle schools and Riverview and Farmington elementary schools. The district currently pays a $976,000 annual electricity bill. Once the arrays are up and running, Sundial Solar estimates the the district could save about $74,250 in energy costs after expenses in the first year. They could save up to $2.7 million over the length of the 25-year contract. They could save a lot more if, by year seven, they choose to buy out their investor. Continue reading.