A completely solar-powered school — that would be an amazing way to go back-to-school this fall!
Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, NC, opened its doors last week to 600 students. It is the first net-positive school in the United States, meaning it is the first school to generate more power than it consumes.
In addition to covering the roof of the school with solar panels, solar sculpture has also been incorporated. These pieces are the most visible part of the solar-power generating system. They are bright blue in color and stand 20 feet fall. Each structure incorporates 12 solar panels.
These highly visible structures and the rest of the solar system, along with a geothermal system, advanced building techniques and high-efficiency LED lighting, is expected to produce 20% more energy than the school requires. The surplus energy will go to the Hoke County energy grid.
Sandy Grove is projected to save the school district nearly $35 million over the next 40 years.
In addition to financial advantages, the use of solar in schools also offers the opportunity to incorporate a real-life example of sustainable energy into the curriculum. The new Sandy Grove Middle School features a dashboard that monitors energy use. “[They] have a real world experience where they touch screens and get moment to moment data about the energy that this building uses,” says eighth-grade teacher, Mary Jacobs.
Do you know a school that makes use of solar energy? Please share how solar is making an impact on education in your community.
Then come back each Tuesday this September as we continue to discuss the use of solar power in education.
Spotlight Solar, Amanda Weber, News 14, http://blog.cednc.org/2013/05/new-school-spotlights-green-building.html