Schools all across the country are embracing environmentally-conscious practices. Not only can energy conservation, recycling programs, and reduced reliance on paper products help us protect the planet, but they can also allow schools to save a substantial amount of money.
The installation of commercial solar panels can be another great way to achieve eco-conscious and cost-cutting goals. Already, U.S. solar power offsets over 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year (the equivalent of planting 1.2 billion trees). And right now, approximately 5% of American schools are powered by the sun — saving tens of millions of dollars in energy costs over time.
But while solar energy for schools is an excellent idea, you may have a bit of groundwork to do before you can install the panels. The process of becoming a solar energy school isn’t as simple as you might think. In order to facilitate solar panel installation for schools, there needs to be a clear plan of action in place. To that end, we’re sharing three simple steps that you can use as a blueprint when making the switch to solar in your educational facility.
- Identify Your Solar Advocates: Before you can get down to the nitty-gritty, you’ll need to really look at who has an interest in adding solar energy for schools. In other words, you should zero in on the students, teachers, staff members, parents, and other community members who can serve as solar energy leaders and advocate for this change. Your “solar army” can act as liaisons to other people within your community to help you communicate the benefits of solar panels for schools. By focusing on the goal of educating others, you’ll be able to drum up support for this cause and strengthen your position for when it comes time to submit a formal proposal. Identifying those advocates — the people who already believe in the merits of this cause and who will volunteer their time to make this change happen — will be an important place to start.
- Examine Financials, System Possibilities, and Regulations: Now it’s time to sift through a lot of important details. You’ll need to figure out the current energy costs of your school and how much your school would stand to save by going solar. You’ll also need to calculate potential project costs of different solar setups, learn more about government and utility incentives, and figure out which financing options might be available to you. Finally, you’ll need to research regulations on both the local and state level and address any regulatory concerns when crafting the budget for your project. Then, you’ll usually have to include all of these facts and figures in what’s called a request for proposal. This proposal request is what’s put forth in order to solicit bids from potential suppliers who will fulfill your need for services (in this case, solar energy for schools).
- Evaluate Possible Solar Providers: Once you’ve prepared and issued your request for proposals, you’ll likely receive bids from at least a few solar providers in your area. You can also contact solar providers directly for a project quote. It’s a good idea to receive quotes or bids from at least three or four solar installation companies to get a better idea of average costs and what kinds of systems may be available to you for your particular budget. Once you meet with these providers and learn more about their services, you can start to whittle down the list to the provider that most closely matches your requirements for solar installation.
Installing solar energy for schools represents a bit of an undertaking — but it’s an endeavor that’s well worth the investment. To learn more about what Stone Creek Solar can do for your school, please contact our team today.