Schools Roundup: Solar at Georgia High School and California Schools, Texas A&M CHP System, Illinois School District 57 HVAC

Mage Solar, a turnkey coordinator of PV systems, will provide a 1.1 MW solar PV system to Dublin City High School, in Dublin, Ga. The 4,898-module system will be spread out over several locations on campus and include roof top arrays, ground mounts and dual axis trackers. Evergreen Solar Services, a nationally operating installer company with focus on large commercial and utility scale installations, will construct, commission, and maintain the operation of the photovoltaic system. The solar consulting group Greenavations Power and Renewable Energy Equipment Leasing, a Georgia-based finance company, worked with Mage Solar to create the financing structure that will reduce the school’s utility costs about 40 percent.

SolarCity announced a 1.5 MW solar power project that will bring renewable energy to eight Barstow Unified School District schools and facilities in California, including Cameron Elementary School, Crestline Elementary School, Henderson Elementary School, Montara Elementary School, Barstow Junior High School, Barstow High School, Central High School and the Barstow District Office. The solar installations are expected to save the district $112,000 in the first year and roughly $5.3 million over the next 20 years. The solar systems will offset an average of 70 percent of each of the eight facilities’ electricity needs. Barstow also will join hundreds of other districts across the state in benefiting from state’s net metering policy, which credits solar customers for the surplus clean energy their systems send to the grid.

Texas A&M’s energy efficiency measures have saved the university about $140 million during the past decade, according to The Eagle. From 2002 to 2012, the campus grew by about 25 percent in terms of square footage, but its energy use decreased from 364 million BTUs per square foot to 214 BTUs, a 40 percent drop. A combination of reduced consumption and more efficiencies created the decrease. In 2012, the university installed a combined heating and power system that requires one-third less fuel than an off-campus power plant with similar output. The university recovers otherwise-wasted heat to provide space heating, cooling and domestic hot water. Also, the CHP system displaces grid-supplied power, increasing the reliability of the energy supply while reducing demands on existing transmission and distribution infrastructure.

After conducting an energy audit in 2012, School District 57 in Mount Prospect, Ill., is implementing a control schedule that ensures HVAC equipment runs less often when people are not in its four school buildings, saving an estimated $50,000 yearly, says the Chicago Tribune. In addition, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will pay experts to find inefficiencies in HVAC operations and recommend improvements that will pay for themselves in 18 months or less at District 57’s Fairview and Lions Park schools. The District could save $35,000 yearly if all recommendations are implemented. DCEO also gave District 57 a grant for $64,000 for energy savings realized from installing new lights at its Lincoln and Westbrook schools last summer.

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