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Schools Across the Nation Turn to Solar Power Plan, Cutting Utility Bills

Schools Across the Nation Turn to Solar Power Plan, Cutting Utility Bills

Schools across the country are trying to go green and save money. From recycling to picking up playgrounds, students are also participating in programs to make their communities cleaner. 

According to a study conducted by Solar Energy Industries Association, titled, "Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools Report," thousands of schools across the nation are cutting their utility bills by looking towards solar energy. These schools are using the savings to pay for teacher salaries and textbooks, according to the SEIA. The report estimates that "more than 70,000 additional schools would benefit by doing the same."

"The large flat rooftops typically found on public and private K-12 school buildings throughout the United States make many of these properties excellent candidates for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal systems," the report said. "School parking lots can be put to productive use with solar PV canopies, which provide the added benefit of shading parked vehicles on sunny days, and tracts of vacant land on campus can be used to support modestly-sized PV farms."

The report found that 450 individual school districts can save more than $1,000,000 over 30 years by installing this PV system, it said. Of the "125,000 schools in the country, between 40,000 and 72,000 can 'go solar' cost-effectively," the report said.

"There are 3,752 K-12 schools in the United States with solar installations, meaning nearly 2.7 million students attend schools with solar energy systems," the report said. A positive to having solar panels in schools, the report said, is that it "presents teachers with a number of educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects."

"Solar arrays sited on K-12 schools and designed with education in mind can help students overcome these shortcomings, providing a 'real-world situation' for students to sharpen their math and science skills," said the report.

The report concludes that if the 72,000 schools that are encouraged to take on this practice were to use solar panels, "the combined electricity generation could offset greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking approximately 1 million passenger vehicles off the road."

Read the full report. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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