School buildings are community gathering spots. If school is in session, the building is opened as early as 6am and will close its doors until late, when parent-teacher meetings, band practices or extracurricular activities are over, say 8pm.
And during the summer vacations and on weekends, these buildings are used for other community activities; Sunday school or homeowner association meetings, for example. So, all year round since early in the morning to late at night, schools are either being heated or cooled. Never mind lit hallways and classrooms; or computers and cameras that are working round the clock.
This energy consumption is a concern for sure. Students, teachers, parents and school administrators are all ecologically conscious and know the harm being done to the environment (and to the school budget). But little is being done to change and push for greener buildings.
According to Michael Laine, MP2 Capital and Clint Montgomery, Superintendent, Northwestern Regional School District No. 7, “One of the primary reasons why school systems get cold feet at the idea of going green is the perceived cost of deploying renewable energy systems. School budgets across the United States are incredibly tight, a situation that is exacerbated by the nation’s current economic condition. As a result, school boards are faced with having to lay off teachers and cut core programs just to remain financially viable. Now is not the time, most seem to believe, to be introducing major infrastructure projects such as solar-or wind-power systems that have large price tags attached.”
This is a sad reality not only for schools but for many Americans who are conscious of their dependency on fuel generated electricity but do not have the means to make a change.
Schools have been teaching children about the environment, but they cannot lead by example, yet they should, it only takes a bit of analysis and a lot of will. And some school districts are already doing so.
“When faced with the prospect of electricity costs rising 4-8% annually, the Northwestern Regional School District No. 7 in Winsted, Conn., began investigating what it would take to put a solar array on the roof of its 250,000 square foot high school building. While it could technically be done, the question of how to finance such a project loomed large. The school board considered three different ways to fund it:
- Outright Purchase – The school system could pay for building and maintaining its own solar infrastructure. This model was rejected because it required bonds, which were impossible to secure at the time.
- Lease/Purchase Arrangement – Instead of bonding the full project, the school district could lease the system from a company that would finance and build the system. This model often comes with higher upfront and monthly costs and down the road would require the school district to own and operate its own solar array.
- Public/Private Partnership – With this option, the school district could find a private company to install and maintain the solar facility on its rooftop, and through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) pay a discounted rate for only the power produced onsite.
Ultimately, the school district concluded that the most financially sound option was to enter into a public/private partnership with MP2 Capital. MP2 provided the financing for the project and contracted with groSolar to build the system, which is comprised of almost 2,000 panels spanning 40,000 square feet of roof space.”
This clear example proves that it can be done. Northwestern Regional School District No. 7 is an example to follow. On the other hand, MP2 Capital is only one of many companies who can assist in projects like these.
I know for a fact that Concept Renewable Energy Systems is focused on providing renewable energy products and educational support to schools and churches in a number of markets across Texas and the Midwest United States.
So, if you are in a school committee or are part of the school board or simply a concerned teacher, parent or even student, go ahead and review the possibilities. You can do something for the environment and your community. With your help, your school district might change their mind and enter the GREEN BUILDING era sooner than you think.