Beginning in 2008, Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) developed a Sustainability Management System (SMS) and has since launched several “greenBVSD” initiatives. The SMS defines the vision, goals and strategies for achieving district-wide environmental sustainability, and serves as a roadmap for integrating these concepts into the curriculum and operations.
BVSD selected SolarCity to install a 1.4-megawatt (MW) system that delivers several environmental benefits to the region, including eliminating over 110 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of taking roughly 300 cars off Colorado’s roads each year. The schools will reap significant energy savings over the course of the 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and will have solar arrays on a total of 30 BVSD schools, which is more than half of the District’s buildings.
In addition to the vast environmental and financial benefits, the solar installation also provides valuable education to BVSD students and the surrounding community. Students at these 14 schools will have access to rich on-site educational resources. With SolarCity’s web-based monitoring platform, PowerGuide®, BVSD students are able to track in real-time how much power their solar system is generating and how much electricity their school is using. This data is displayed graphically, thus enabling students to easily see the relationship between production and consumption.
SolarCity also provided the school district with curriculum materials for an extensive learning program called Schools Going Solar, which helps schools teach solar basics to students in grades 5 through 12. Developed by the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the program approaches the subject from mathematical, scientific, social and cultural perspectives.
As a SolarCity PPA customer, the district can avoid the upfront cost of installing solar arrays and simply buy the power produced from the systems at a set rate, typically below the cost of grid electricity. Overall, the district is expected to save 10–15%* on its yearly energy bills and can redirect those funds back into the classroom.