Sidwell Friends School (SFS) is now generating its own electricity from sunlight and reducing its impact on the environment and utility grid thanks to its 53-kilowatt solar installation that will also save the school money on utility bills. The 224-panel system is the result of a unique partnership between the school, SolarCity and Common Cents Solar.
SFS worked with Common Cents Solar, a local non-profit that facilitates solar projects, to launch a program of community-based “solar bonds.” The bonds will be repaid over ten years after which the SFS community members may donate the system to Sidwell Friends, providing free energy for the remaining life of the system, estimated at 20 years or more. This is the third solar installation at the school. In 2006, a 50-panel system was installed on the Middle School building, and in 2010, a 120-panel system was installed on the roof of the SFS Lower School gym using a similar financing model.
Students can learn about energy generated via their school’s solar system by monitoring the energy production online, which can be integrated into the students’ curriculum.
“The solar system offers Sidwell Friends the environmental benefits of carbon free energy production, financial savings and rich teaching opportunities,” said Michael Saxenian, Assistant Head of School and CFO of Sidwell Friends School.
In addition to its educational opportunities, the project also promotes a cleaner environment in Washington, D.C. With an annual estimated energy output of 68,610 kWh, the system is expected to reduce annual greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions equivalent to the average annual emissions from 2.5 million miles driven in a car. Ultimately, the system will offset 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next three decades and save the school thousands in electricity costs.