The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
September - October 2007
Solar energy comes to Washington School
On June 20 the Berkeley School Board voted unanimously to begin bringing solar energy to Berkeley's public schools. The first school to receive a photovoltaic system will be Washington Elementary. Remarkably, the 100-kilowatt system will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of the main facility without increasing the school district's costs.
The Club's Northern Alameda County Group actively supported this project, and supports solarizing more public and municipal buildings in the East Bay.
The initiative was conceived by KyotoUSA, a Berkeley-based volunteer group that encourages cities and their residents to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions for which they are responsible. The initiative, called the HELiOS Project (Helios Energy Lights Our Schools), demonstrates that it is possible to combine energy-efficiency improvements with solar energy to meet the electricity needs of the district's schools. It can be replicated in any area in California served by an investor-owned utility like PG&E.
It has been a community-inspired project involving the school district, the Washington School PTA, Berkeley city staff, the City Council, the university, board members of organizations such as the Ecology Center and the Chamber of Commerce, and hundreds of community members who expressed their support with letters to the Board, technical expertise, recommendations for improved energy efficiencies, and financial contributions.
This project also provides a number of co-benefits beyond the reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. It will begin to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, re-direct future utility expenses to school programs, assist in educating our children about renewable energy and its benefits, and most of all, show our children that we care about their future and that we are taking steps to combat the dire threat of climate change.
KyotoUSA is deeply grateful to the Berkeley community for its unwavering support and looks forward to working toward the day when every school and public building in Berkeley is producing clean, planet-friendly renewable energy.
© 2007 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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