Solar Energy for Schools: The Benefits and How to Get Started

Solar energy is not just a solution for homeowners and businesses, it’s also a powerful resource for schools. From K-12 schools to universities, solar energy offers significant benefits, including cost savings, educational opportunities, and a positive environmental impact.

As the world continues to combat the effects of climate change, the need for sustainable and renewable energy sources is stronger than ever. Schools across California are realizing the potential of solar energy, as it offers numerous benefits. For starters, solar can help school districts save money on energy costs. Solar panels generate clean and renewable electricity that can significantly lower utility bills each month. In addition to financial savings, solar also helps reduce pollution and promote sustainability in the local community.

In this article, we’ll discuss the numerous advantages that solar energy offers to educational institutions and provide a roadmap for initiating the transition to solar power.

The Benefits of Solar Energy for Schools

According to a study by ScienceDaily, schools that install solar panels can reduce harmful air pollution, help the environment, and enhance student learning, all while cutting electricity costs. The research indicates that by fully utilizing all suitable areas for solar panel installation, schools can potentially cover up to three-quarters of their electrical requirements. This could significantly decrease the carbon emissions associated with the education sector, potentially by around 28 percent.

Here are some additional benefits that solar energy can bring to schools across the nation:

The Financial Benefits of Solar Energy for Schools

One of the most immediate benefits of solar energy for schools is the potential for significant economic savings. K-12 school districts in the U.S. spend more than $8 billion per year on energy, with energy costs in many districts being second only to salaries.

A study by Stanford behavioral scientist, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, also suggests that investments in the right solar projects, with the right incentives from states, could free up much-needed money in schools’ budgets. “Schools are paying for electricity anyway,” Wong-Parodi said in a press release from the university. “This is a way, in some cases, that they can reduce their costs. If there’s a rebate or a subsidy, it can happen more quickly.”

The Environmental Impact of Solar Energy in Schools

In the United States, around 11 percent of the energy consumed by buildings is attributed to educational facilities. These institutions are also responsible for about 4 percent of the country’s total carbon emissions. By switching to solar energy, schools can play a significant role in combating climate change. This is particularly important in California, where schools are increasingly being called upon to lead the way in sustainable practices.

Moreover, solar panels on school rooftops can help reduce harmful air pollution. Power plants operate on conventional energy sources, including coal and natural gas, which generate pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants contribute to smog, acid rain, and serious health consequences. By going solar, schools help improve air quality and public health in their communities.

The Impact of Solar Energy on the School Community

By reducing energy costs, schools can free up funds for other important resources, such as textbooks, technology, and extracurricular programs. Furthermore, solar energy projects often involve the wider school community, which fosters a sense of collaboration and shared purpose.

The Educational Benefits of Solar Energy for Schools

Solar energy isn’t just about cost savings and environmental benefits. It can also provide a practical, hands-on lesson in sustainability for students.

Schools can use their solar energy systems as teaching tools to help students learn about renewable energy, climate change, and sustainability. Some schools already use data from their own solar energy systems to help students understand concepts like fractions or to demonstrate how shifting solar panel angles can affect power production.

How Schools Can Get Started with Solar Energy

Switching to solar energy may seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and resources, it can be a smooth and rewarding process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how schools can get started with solar energy.

Step 1: Conduct a Feasibility Study

The first step in any solar project is to conduct a feasibility study, which involves assessing the school’s energy needs, evaluating the suitability of the site for solar installation, and estimating the potential cost savings and environmental benefits.

Step 2: Secure Funding

Solar installations require an upfront investment, but there are many funding options available to schools. These include grants, loans, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and leasing arrangements.

Step 3: Select a Solar Installer

Choosing the right solar installer is crucial to the success of the project. Schools should look for installers with experience in the education sector, a strong track record of successful installations, and a commitment to customer service.

See how we designed and installed a solar panel system for La Escuelita Educational Center in Oakland, CA that will save the school more than $6.3 million over the lifetime of their system. Explore additional solar projects we completed for California Schools

Step 4: Install and Maintain the Solar System

Once the installer has been selected, they will design and install the solar system. While solar energy systems are low maintenance, the system should be regularly maintained to ensure it continues to operate at the highest efficiency.

The Future is Bright with Solar Energy

Solar energy offers a wealth of benefits for schools, from cost savings and environmental benefits to educational opportunities and community engagement. By making the switch to solar, your school can take a leading role in the fight against climate change, while also providing a brighter future for your students.

For more detailed information for your upcoming clean energy project, contact us today for a free financial analysis that includes costs, finance options, ROI and more. 

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