Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Solar Allows Schools to Manage Energy Costs, Prioritize Educational Needs

3 min read

Due to budget reductions at schools, school administrators continue to look for new ways to cut costs and spend their money as efficiently as possible. Now more than ever, driven by economic and sustainability reasons, solar has become an attractive option for schools.

The use of solar arrays on campus sends a powerful message to students, staff and the community that the school district is taking a stand to minimize its own carbon footprint and to improve local air quality. Schools may be able to rely more on renewable energy versus the traditional power grid, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, for the majority of their energy needs with the installation of onsite solar arrays.

In addition, solar may have the ability to reduce energy costs incurred by schools over time, allowing educational expenditures to be prioritized. Constellation’s solar solution enables schools to purchase solar through a long-term power purchasing agreement at a fixed rate that requires no upfront costs. Having fixed rates also allows administrators to anticipate energy costs and therefore manage limited school budgets more effectively.

…solar may have the ability to reduce energy costs incurred by schools over time

“One of Constellation’s goals when working with schools is to customize solutions that best fit the districts’ needs, whether that’s budgetary, sustainability or general campus enhancements” said Brendon Quinlivan, of Constellation’s solar business development team.

Solar arrays can come with other unique benefits, such as shaded areas on the school playground and the addition of renewable energy topics or activities to the students’ educational curriculum.

Adding Solar to the Playground, Student Curriculum

In 2015, 8.3 megawatts (MW) of solar arrays were installed at 11 schools in Chaffey Joint Union High School District in San Bernardino County, Calif., via carport installations. Amphitheater Public Schools in Tucson, Ariz. installed a similar solar carport project (9.3 MW) but also implemented shade canopies on campus (see an example in the photo below). Both district-wide projects now provide shade for students and district staff in their hot and sunny climates.

“The solar arrays can also be placed on black top – which are typically more than 20 to 30 degrees hotter than outside temperature,” said Quinlivan. “By covering black top with the solar panels, students have more area to play and safely enjoy the outdoors.”

Solar Arrays on Blacktop in K-12

Some schools are even incorporating this initiative into their student curriculum in order to tout the benefits of solar power to students – who are growing up in a world where taking steps toward a cleaner world are imperative in combating climate change.

The solar projects also offer real-time data monitoring capabilities that have been integrated into the school curriculum and can be found on display screens inside the school buildings. This information helps students learn about how solar electricity works and shares how last month’s weather conditions affected the panels, for example. Students can observe how solar energy is powering their schools, and at the same time, be introduced to potential careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

By hosting a solar system on site, schools can lower their electric bill, eliminate energy price volatility and increase energy reliability, as well as potentially participate in associated sustainability benefits and carbon offset. Constellation has served more than 100 customers across the U.S. with over 400 MW of behind-the-meter, customized solar solutions over the last decade, and can work with you to create your own solar solution. Talk to your Constellation sales representative today about our solar solution, or visit

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