- By: Nick Sylvestre
- Tags: connecticut schools, maryland schools, new jersey schools, new york schools, nonprofit solar, pennsylvania schools, power purchase agreement, renewable energy, savings, school, schools go solar, solar, solar learning, solar schools, solar universities, university
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Though thousands of schools around the country have already taken advantage of the cost savings and many benefits which solar can provide, the opportunity is still generally underutilized. Schools have a unique advantage when it comes to solar energy because of the favorable building structures on each campus. The large, flat rooftops normally found on public, private, K-12 and university school buildings make many of these properties ideal candidates for rooftop solar or land based solar arrays. School parking lots can also be equipped with solar canopies, which can provide the added benefit of shade for parked cars, thus also saving on snow removal. Virtually any sufficiently sizeable rooftop and/or empty land spaces on school property can support small solar farms, which may further serve an extended community as well.
The Department of Energy reports that taxpayers spend an average of $6 billion on energy costs for K-12 school buildings, more than what is spent on textbooks and computers combined and second only to teacher salaries. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average school building is roughly 42 years old and budgets are targeting improvements for these aging or decrepit facilities. Unfortunately, the amount of resulting energy inefficiencies at most schools creates an increase of 25% more energy consumption than what is needed.
Offsetting a school’s electrical consumption with solar power can deliver a significant cost savings to schools and their districts. Over time, solar can serve as a hedge against the typical annual increases in utility rates. As a clean and renewable energy technology, solar has proven to reduce carbon emissions helping to protect human health and the environment.
Among the environmental benefits, solar on schools can also surprisingly help to save water, as it uses a mere fraction of the water required to produce electricity than the conventional fossil fuel sources presently use. Most importantly, solar installations on schools can provide teachers with a unique opportunity to teach concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and boost student interest in these critical subjects. Further, solar data acquisition systems allow schools to monitor the daily, weekly, monthly and annual production of a solar system in real time, thus providing valuable metrics on campus energy consumption. If your school is in the process of researching solar options, Louth Callan Renewables can help guide you.
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