Oakland Zoo

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Key Facts

Location Oakland, CA
System Size 30 kW
Roof Type Standing Seam Metal, Educational Pole Mount
Installed June 2007
Payback 7 Years
Internal Rate of Return (IRR) 13%
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 Video Tour

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"Conservation and a greener footprint are two important concerns for us. With the work of SolarCity, FEE and the PG&E Solar Schools Program, we can help address these important sustainability issues while providing a central location for bringing clean energy awareness to our visitors."
Dr. Joel Parrot, Executive Director of the Oakland Zoo.
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SolarCity & Oakland Zoo Educate Visitors on Benefits of Clean Solar Power

SolarCity first installed a 1 kW system for educational purposes and later installed a 29 kW system on an adjacent Oakland Zoo Educational Center building to offset the zoo's electricity usage. The educational center is also home to a SolarCity kiosk that features real-time solar production statistics and educates visitors on how solar power works.

Oakland Zoo—A Place of Learning

The Oakland Zoo's mission is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world. When families spend an afternoon at the Oakland Zoo, they can not only engage with the 440 native and exotic species of animals that call the zoo home, but they can learn more about conservation and how to achieve a greener footprint.

Solar became a part of the Oakland Zoo's curriculum in 2007, when it joined forces with SolarCity, Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Solar Schools Program and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). In the three years since the program began, the partners have agreed to install more than 100 solar learning towers designed to catalyze solar power interest and education around the state of California.

The first installation took place at the Oakland Zoo's Maddie's Center for Science and Environmental Education. The 10'x10' solar system installed on the zoo grounds was designed as a monument to solar power and a rallying point for resource conservation and education in the community.

"Conservation and a greener footprint are two important concerns for us," said Dr. Joel Parrot, Executive Director of the Oakland Zoo. "With the work of SolarCity, FEE and the PG&E Solar Schools Program, we can help address these important sustainability issues while providing a central location for bringing clean energy awareness to our visitors," he said.

Walk the Walk

Phase two of the project occurred not long thereafter—a 29 kW solar system installation on the zoo's own Educational Center and a SolarCity kiosk in the lobby of the center displaying real-time solar electricity production and further educating visitors about how solar works.

"Teaching the importance of clean, sustainable energy solutions is a social responsibility, and one of the most important lessons we can impart on future leaders," said SolarCity's chief executive officer, Lyndon Rive. "We are proud to have lent assistance to the Oakland Zoo for their solar project, and we are excited to continue working with the Solar Schools Program and bringing opportunities for solar education to students in more than 100 schools across the region," he said.

Inspiring the Solar Scientists of Tomorrow

Being the first installation of the PG&E Solar Schools Program was a great honor for the Oakland Zoo. Not only was the zoo delighted to save money on its own electricity expenses and reduce its own carbon footprint, but its mission to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world was very much aligned with the goals of its partners—SolarCity and PG&E—in promoting social responsibility.

"In providing these grants, equipment and curricula, we hope to help educate students on the benefits of clean, renewable energy sources like solar power, and inspire them to become the solar inventors and scientists of tomorrow," said Ophelia Basgal, PG&E vice president of civic partnerships and community initiatives. "PG&E's Solar Schools Program brings together our commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency and education in a way that will benefit students, schools, and the community for years to come."