March 23, 2016
By Stelli Munnis, Sun Power
As California schools face the prospect of continued budget cuts and rising energy costs, doing more with less has become their mantra. While energy represents a huge cost center for many schools, strategically managed energy presents a significant opportunity—to save money for teacher salaries and student services, expand educational opportunities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the human health and learning environment of students.
Energy costs are the second highest cost for many schools and universities—second only to teacher salaries—and schools could save up to 25% of energy costs every year by implementing energy improvements according to the US Department of Energy. In addition, offsetting energy consumption with increasingly cost-competitive clean energy technologies like solar can protect schools against future rises in electricity rates by essentially “locking in” today’s prices for 20 years or more.
With the passage of California SB 350 (2015), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy production in the state by 2030—and Governor Brown’s ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050—the time is ripe for educators to evaluate their options for a strong, proactive energy policy at every campus.