A report by the Solar Foundation and SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association®) says that in late 2014, there were 3,752 schools with solar systems. Three thousand of those were installed between 2008 and 2014—just six short years. Between 2008 and 2012, solar installations on U.S. schools experienced a compound annual growth rate of 110 percent. The report also estimates that the 3,727 PV systems generating electricity in one year represents $77.8 million per year in utility bills. That’s almost $21,000 per year per school, on average. This combined energy value is roughly equivalent to 155,000 tablet computers or nearly 2,200 new teachers’ salaries per year. Download the full free report here: https://www.seia.org/research-resources/brighter-future-study-solar-us-schools-report
Sunfinity Renewable Energy recently helped one of Dallas premier private schools to take their first steps toward solar power. The administration at Cistercian Preparatory School, located on 80 acres in the Dallas suburb of Irving, TX, includes a community of monks and priests serving the Cistercian order, who feel that it is part of their Christian calling to be good stewards of God’s earth. They also feel they have a duty to model good stewardship of the earth for their young students, 345 boys in grades 5 through 12.
The Cistercian community is heeding Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ (Praise Be), in which he issued a warning and call-to-action regarding the environment, specifically citing the need for “substituting fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources.” Pope Francis’ statements include:
- “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day."
- "We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels—especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas—needs to be progressively replaced without delay..."
Read more from the encyclical here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-environment-excerpts/excerpts-from-pope-francis-encyclical-on-the-environment-idUSKBN0OY17320150618
School administrators also take seriously the need to be good stewards in the financial arena. Again, solar energy makes sense for them because they see a direct correlation between reducing energy costs and being able to hold down tuition increases and fund other important budget items, like teacher salaries.
Sunfinity developed an initial system that is 464 panels on 2 buildings, along with a storage battery. The campus includes seven buildings and outdoor sporting facilities, and the school hopes to expand their solar capabilities in the future. The installation took place in the spring of 2018 while school was in session, without disruption of any school activities. This schedule readied the school to take advantage of solar production just in time for the miserably hot Texas summer, and the summer of 2018 was a scorcher!
We’re very excited that Solar Builder™ included Cistercian and Sunfinity among the nominees for their 2018 Project of the Year. Read more about the contest here: https://solarbuildermag.com/news/vote-for-the-2018-solar-builder-project-of-the-year/.
In addition to the solar system, Sunfinity Renewable Energy committed to providing Cistercian Preparatory School with an educational display explaining the “mechanics” of photovoltaic panels, inverters, and battery storage. The solar system will be used as a jumping off point for a variety of classroom lessons and hopefully as a jumping-off point for young men to pursue lifetimes of commitment to the environment.
Watch the video recapping Phase One of the Cistercian project here