Green Options for Schools – Energy ABC’s #4

Video Transcript

One of the hottest topics on the streets today is about sustainability and green energy.

You’re likely already facing some pressure from your Board members and community to become more green as a District but still maintain that limited budget that you have.

So, in today’s video we’re going to cover 3 green options for schools that can help you become more sustainable as a District and discern which is best and fits best with your budget.

Green Option 1: Solar Power

The reason that solar is such a big deal and a big talking point in Illinois right now is there are new financial incentives to improve the overall ROI of solar installations.

These incentives include:

  • Utility rebates in the form of a check that you get after the solar installation is completed
  • Solar Renewable Energy Credits (or SRECs) that you can sell for money for any power that’s produced from your solar array
  • Federal tax incentives that you don’t really qualify for as a tax-free entity.

Because you can’t take advantage of the tax incentives, you may want to consider a Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, in which an outside developer takes advantage of the incentives and installs the solar panels on your rooftop or your ground mount. They get paid by you over the course of a 20-25 year agreement.

You don’t have any upfront capital outlay — you simply pay the installer for any power produced by the array over the 20-25 years. So if you have no bond ability, no capital outlay, and you can’t purchase the array directly, this may be an option that you want to consider if the numbers are favorable.

The final question you want to ask yourself is how quickly can you act as a District. Those SRECs that we talked about  — those Solar Renewable Energy Credits — are on a diminishing scale. So you’re getting paid less and less for each kWh of electricity that’s generated the longer you wait to install a solar array.

If this is something you can act on quickly, the can drastically change the ROI on your project and may make it cost prohibitive.

Green Option 2: Lighting

A second option that you can explore is to lower your carbon footprint through lowering your overall energy consumption. This is done by completing efficiency projects.

One of the lowest-hanging fruit in this category is lighting upgrades, or installing LEDs.

The beautiful thing about this option is that the cost of LEDs has come down considerably, but there are still utility rebates available for completed projects.

You can also reduce the lighting portion of your energy usage by as much as 80 percent with an LED upgrade. So it’s definitely something worth considering.

The best part is if you can achieve an ROI under two years, that may be an easier sell to your board than a 20-25 year PPA for a solar project.

Green Option 3: Purchasing RECs

A final option you can take is purchasing green, renewably-sourced power.

For a small premium — usually 2-3 percent of your overall energy cost– you can purchase power that comes from, wind, solar, or water generation sources. So you have the PR to say that you are a District that is powered by 100 percent green renewable energy.

While this isn’t a direct offset of your carbon footprint, it will help appease in many situations any initiatives that your Board or community may have for your District.

 

Hopefully this gives you a great overview of the green options available to you to become more sustainable as a school District. For more information on any of the topics we talked about it this video, check out the links below or certainly reach out if you have any questions.

Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time on Energy ABC’s!

See more posts about Sustainability:

 

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