Schools in New York State are facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. Budgets are tight, and the global pandemic and other environmental factors have fundamentally changed how education courses are delivered. And the students? We feel for them. They are being asked to learn in turbulent environments, only to enter an ultra-competitive job market with ever-shifting skill demands.
In this context, a win for everyone is rarer than a unanimous school budget passage. But that’s exactly what going solar produces – a triple win for the school budget, the environment, and student learning. And school systems are catching on. Today, NY is number six in the nation when it comes to solar capacity in educational settings, responsible for over 35,000 kilowatts of solar power use across 222 different schools. Read on to learn why solar is the best way to keep the lights on in the classroom.
How Much Money Can a School Save by Going Solar?
This will depend on many factors, including the size of the school, its average energy consumption, financial incentives available for going solar, and more. But across the board, the savings are considerable and compounds over the years. For comparison, the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona calculated that they will save $43 million in energy costs over a 20-year period. In Arkansas, the Batesville School District saw similar results by making the switch and even reinvested the savings into teacher salaries. They are now the highest-paying school district in the nation and can give teachers up to $9,000 in scheduled raises per year.
What Happens to the Environment When a School Goes Solar?
The science is clear; human activities are contributing to climate change. By releasing tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, we are trapping heat and contributing to global warming. These changes in the climate system have a domino effect, negatively affecting our health, environment, and economy.
As bastions of scientific evidence and progress, schools have an incredible opportunity to lead the way towards fixing this problem, and that’s exactly what schools making the switch to solar are doing. Using solar power not only helps the adapting school itself – it’s a positive externality on the entire neighborhood. Going solar reduces the district’s dependence on harmful, expensive outside fossil fuels and gives the school more control over a cleaner, renewable energy source that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Who doesn’t want to have more control, breathe easier, and be part of the solution?
What Does Going Solar Mean for the Students?
Schools are expected to teach “employability skills” and STEM through “experiential learning” and AP courses. These expectations are challenging, if not impossible, to meet with the schools’ limited budgets. But making the switch to solar provides some relief with another triple win – schools can teach students in-demand science, technology, engineering, and math skills using hands-on methods by building their solar systems into the learning curriculum. For instance, the Roxbury Latin School has added an interactive hub in their science center that provides on-demand data on the solar panel’s productivity and weather information.
Want to Learn More About Going Solar?
Check out the incredible research available on the Solar Foundation website to explore more about whether going solar is right for your district. And if you’d like to speak with solar installation experts about your particular project idea, Solar Liberty is always available for a free consultation. Contact us today!