Solar Schools

Putting solar panels on a school not only saves that school money on electricity, it can serve as a great education project to show students, parents, and the general public what's possible.

If you haven't yet, check out the story of the solar school on Salt Spring Island, BC.

Your team could take something like this on too. It's half a matter of bringing along school staff and officials, and half a matter of fundraising. 

Here are some tips:

1) Get lots of buy-in first. It's the school staff, officials, and teachers who will need to implement the project, so you need them on board! Talk to school maintenance staff about a "what if?" scenario and ask about potential southern-facing roofs. Talk to teachers who may want to make it part of their students' education. Talk to the principal. Talk to the school board. Talk to students. Talk to the parent advisory committee. Find champions.

2) Talk to solar installers. There's probably at least a couple of solar panel installers who do work in your area. Find them on the internet and call them up. Tell them what you are thinking, and ask them about costs. Compare prices. This will be a sliding scale based on how large of a system it is (how many panels), and that may be decided based on how much money your team thinks it can raise. The smallest system will be at least $15k. Ask them if they give discounts for these kinds of community projects and figure out whether they would do all the work or whether school maintenance staff may do part of it. Arrive at a budget number.

3) Launch a fundraising campaign. This is the kind of project that people want to donate to. Give the project a name and make some fundraising materials both online and offline (like pamphlets). Approach local businesses and service clubs. See if the parent advisory committee wants to help take this on as a fundraising project. Check out various government grants. Crowdfund online.

4) Educate. Each step in the process is an opportunity to talk about climate change and about solutions, both inside the school community and beyond. A solar installer can give you some numbers about how much electricity would be generated and depending on where you live, what the greenhouse gas implications are. Alert local media. Post online.