Thursday, January 6, 2011

Guest Post: Two California Schools Win Grid Neutral Awards at Green Schools Summit

Solar panel roofs cover the Milpitas High School parking lot. Image credit: Abdul Kalam

by Lisa Shoreland

On December 10, California recognized Yuba City and Milpitas Unified School Districts for the Inaugural 2010 “Grid Neutral” Awards at Green Schools Summit in Pasadena.

Grid Neutral

Back in 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed the Green Building Executive Order (S-20-04), which called for the reduction of electricity consumption in state buildings by 20% by 2015. In response, California’s Grid Neutral Schools Initiative came about, with the Division of the State Architect working hand in hand with other government agencies and local school districts. By 2008, they had come up with a comprehensive guide, requiring energy cost cuts via on-site electricity generation and more, to aid California schools and colleges in going grid neutral.

To be “grid neutral” means to generate the same amount of electricity as the amount used. This year, all schools K-12 were considered in the categories of Distinguished Campus, District-wide Excellence, and Exemplary Teaching Tool. Yuba City and Milpitas schools pioneered energy efficiency, on-site alternative energy generation, and other forms of green initiative.

The Winning Districts

Yuba City Unified School District is leaps and bounds ahead of most American schools in terms of greening itself over. It won the Distinguished Campus award for its efforts in integrating energy demand-reduction and peak-energy saving as well as use of energy efficient A/C and lighting systems. The Riverbend K-8 School also received note for its renewable power generation.

Meanwhile, the Milpitas Unified School District snagged the District-wide Excellence award and the Exemplary Teaching Tool award for its strong and effective focus on solar power. The district installed photovoltaic system on stand-alone campus structures and financed the power system with solar power purchase agreements. In addition, the students themselves learned about solar power through their curriculum while teachers learned of sustainable professional development opportunities.

“What a tremendous job these school districts are doing in leading the way with green innovations in our public schools,” Governor Schwarzenegger lauded. “I love that our schools are integrating green design to achieve energy savings and preserve natural resources while also educating students on alternative energy solutions. It’s fantastic.”

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she's been researching Student Grants and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandon animals.

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