Solar for Schools

Solar Citizen: Building the renewable energy movement from the ground up!

By Emily Stiever

Aruna’s Place, a preschool in Sudbury, Mass., went solar with the help of Sol Solution, a nonprofit that helps groups go solar throughout the state.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Solar for Schools

More than 500 K-12 schools in 43 states have installed solar panels, helped by the fact solar panel prices have dropped by more than one-third over the past three years.

schoolsSchools find that going solar helps them: (1) save money on utility bills, (2) create educational opportunities, and (3) reduce their carbon footprint.

Some schools install large systems that produce a significant amount of their power, such as the Porterville United School District in California. Porterville installed solar in six schools and expects to reduce energy costs by $44 million over the next 25 years. In Morris County, N.J., the  Morris County Improvement Authority is now installing 3.2 megawatts (MW) of solar on 19 public school and county government buildings.

Other schools choose small demonstration systems, as educational demonstration projects. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has awarded over $2,100,000 in grants to more than 220 schools to install 1 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) demonstration systems. Many schools raise money for their own demonstration projects.

A number of organizations can help your school go solar. The Solar Foundation has established the Brian D. Robertson Memorial Solar School Fund to help schools start a solar project. You can contact them for support on your solar school project.

TOOLS FOR ACTION:  Take Your School Solar

Want to help take your local school solar? Not sure where to start? We can help! Solar Citizen has partnered with Community Power Network to start a Solar-for-Schools working group. Click here to learn more and sign up.  

Join our working group and take your school solar!

The group is for people, like you, who want to install solar on a school. We will meet weekly via phone, and work through the process of going solar together. We’ll help you figure out the best approach for your school, connect you with experts in your area, and support each other through the process.

4-8toolsNo experience in solar is necessary! All you need is an interest in taking your school solar. We will help with the rest.

Interested in joining the Solar-for-Schools working group? Click here to sign up. 

RESOURCES:  Learn More

Solar on Schools Resource GuideThe Solar Foundation and Community Power Network produced a two-page info sheet on solar for schools. It gives a good overview on key issues related to solar on schools. A great guide to help you orient yourself as you begin a project.

HELiOS ProjectThe HELiOS Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization committed to reducing fossil fuel use in every K-12 school in California. Their website provides all sorts of resources and they can help your school start a solar project!

Solar for Schools Resource GuideCommunity Power Network has put together a guide to help schools understand the process of going solar. The guide includes information on evaluating your roof, finding an installer, and paying for a system.

Making the Grade With Clean Energy: Case Studies of California Solar SchoolsEnvironment California produced a report that gives an excellent overview of solar projects in the state. The report also details how students have benefitted from hands-on solar learning opportunities and includes recommendations for policy changes that would support more solar in California schools.

Financing Solar School ProjectsThe National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has produced an excellent report detailing the financial options schools have at their disposal as they go solar. The report explains various approaches and includes templates, signed project documents, and other reference materials for users to download and adapt.

Database of Renewable Energy Lesson PlansThe U.S. Department of Energy has put together an Energy Education program that includes a database of lesson plans, labs, projects and other activities for grades K-12.


Take Action

Join the Solar-for-Schools working group and help take your school solar! Click here to sign up.


The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation is a nonprofit working to demonstrate the global benefits of solar energy through research and education. We are on the front lines, catalyzing solar markets, and helping people recognize the value of solar as a clean, renewable energy source that promotes greater use of domestic energy resources.

The HELiOS Project

The HELiOS Project is an all-volunteer organization committed to reducing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in every K-12 school in California. We help schools develop solar projects to reduce electricity bills without putting pressure on the general fund. Our website is full of information to help you take your school solar!

Environment America is a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations.   Our staff and members work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment.


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