Oct 21, 2013

Solar power crowdfunding energizes schools

Admin
2 min
In a first-of-its kind melding of education, energy and environmentalism, the Natural Resources Defense Council has launched a crowdfunding campaig...

In a first-of-its kind melding of education, energy and environmentalism, the Natural Resources Defense Council has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support a new initiative to help schools purchase and install rooftop solar systems that can provide clean, renewable energy.

The crowdfunding campaign – a first for NRDC – initially seeks to raise $54,000 through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to help three to five to-be-determined schools move forward with solar rooftop projects. At least one of the locations will be selected by contributors to the campaign, who can vote on the city of their choice.

As part of the campaign, NRDC also is developing an online platform that local schools can use to navigate the sometimes confusing pathway to obtain solar power. The site will detail state and local rules regarding solar power installations across America, and connect schools and communities with organizations and experts that can support them each step of the way.

“Our ultimate goal is help every school that wants solar power to get it,” said NRDC renewable energy policy director Nathanael Greene.

“If we can hold fundraisers for field trips and sports teams, we can do the same to get our schools on solar. Switching to clean, renewable solar energy helps the environment and the health of our local communities, but also helps schools to cut energy expenses and funnel the savings to other programs,” Greene said.

The benefits to local schools and students can be substantial. In California, for instance, the Firebaugh-Las Deltas United School District was able to reinstate a music program for 2,300 students after installing solar on its schools, thanks to an estimated $900,000 in energy cost savings. Students also get a first-hand look at how solar energy works, and a real life lesson on why science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is important.

“Numerous organizations and programs – mainly through utilities – are putting solar panels on schools,” said Jay Orfield, environmental innovation fellow in NRDC's Center for Market Innovation.

“What's different about our program is that it aims to make solar an option for any school, anywhere, by beginning with local school administrators, parents, teachers, students and communities and giving them the tools to they need to make solar power a reality,” Orfield said.

NRDC is partnering with several other organizations on the campaign, including The Solar Foundation, Community Power Network, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (Solar 4R Schools) and Three Birds Foundation.

For more on program, see http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-schools-powering-classrooms-empowering-communities.

For a straight-from-students video about NRDC's “Solar Schools: Powering Classrooms, Empowering Communities” campaign – and to contribute: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-schools-powering-classrooms-empowering-communities.

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May 13, 2021

All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency

schools
energyefficiency
Renewables
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only UK regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil

Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.

Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.

According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.

Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.

“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."

He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."

North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).

The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.

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