Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Solar Energy at Two Schools in Waco Texas

A couple of schools in Waco Texas have installed solar panels onto their buildings and they are reaping the benefits. Rapoport Academy's 60 megawatt 250 solar panel system became operational three years ago (October 2011).

They not only generate an energy savings with the solar system that they installed but they use it as a learning tool. Both elementary and high school students are able to monitor the system using real time tracking that measures energy production.

"You can look at what the panels are making and how much energy they're producing at any given time," said Rapoport Academy Superintendent, Alexis Neumann.

Rapoport Academy says they save about $1,200 a month, which Green Mountain Energy buys back from the school. The solar panel system is also a part of Rapoport Academy’s National Green Schools Initiative, which already includes recycling, a garden, and a greenhouse on campus. Rapoport Academy plans to renovate another building on campus which will incorporate both solar energy system and wind energy systems.

Nearby Hallsburg ISD installed 266 solar panels onto their school buildings. These panels generate about 85,000 kWh of electricity each year. In the first four months of operation they were already saving about $678 each month. The school subsequently invested an additional hundred thousand dollars for more solar projects. The solar panel project is complete and the school now generates a majority of the electricity they use on campus. According to the most recent data, the school has saved $7,258.43 in the last year.

"The technology is coming along, and you know, we can use this as learning tools. And, I definitely see it in the future," said Kent Reynolds, Superintendent of Hallsburg ISD.

Hallsburg ISD has also incorporated natural lighting by installing skylights in one of the classrooms. This reduces the need for electric lighting.

These solar systems and other energy saving efforts not only generate savings and provide valuable teaching tools for students they also garner attention from others outside of the school. According to Neumann other area schools and some non-profits have inquired about incorporating the energy system onto their campuses.

"We gave them information. We walked them through our system and let them know what we were able to do, so they could do the same thing with theirs," said Neumann.

Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 200 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student's eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

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