Sidwell Friends School (SFS) is now generating its own electricity from sunlight and reducing its impact on the environment thanks to its 53-kilowatt solar installation on its Quaker Meetinghouse and Arts Center. The 224-panel system is the result of a unique partnership between the school, SolarCity and Common Cents Solar. The solar system will generate clean solar electricity and create thousands of dollars in electricity bill savings for the school over its lifetime.
SFS worked with Common Cents Solar, a local non-profit that facilitates solar projects, to launch a program of community-based “solar bonds” purchased by SFS community members. The bonds will be repaid over ten years after which the system will be transferred to the school, 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 Lower School gym.
Valuable Educational & Environmental Benefits for Students & Community
In addition to providing clean power, students can learn about solar energy by monitoring the energy production online, which can also be integrated into the students’ curriculum..
“Solar electricity 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 global environment. With an annual estimated energy output of 68,610 kWh, the system will reduce annual greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions equivalent to the average annual emissions from 2.5 million miles driven in a car. This is also equivalent to planting 1,340 mature trees. 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.
Sidwell Friends School Leading the Way with 100% Renewable Energy Commitment
Guided by its Quaker values, Sidwell Friends is committed to practicing responsible environmental stewardship. Sidwell Friends is not only a founding member of the Green Schools Alliance, but it is also among the Top 20 K-12 schools in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program because of its commitment to 100% green power use. Sidwell Friends’ Middle School was the first LEED Platinum K-12 school building in the world, and has been recognized as a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The Quaker Meetinghouse and Arts Building, which holds the newest solar installation, was created in an old gymnasium, eliminating the need for new construction, and is expected to earn a LEED Platinum rating.