Schools Roundup: Duke LED Streetlights, Sweetwater School District 3.3 MW Solar, McKinney School District Half-Watt Wednesday

by | Feb 27, 2013

Duke University in North Carolina has begun a year-long project to replace 1,460 existing streetlamps with new, energy-efficient LED bulbs. The effort will reduce replaced lights’ energy use by about 75 percent, according to Duke Today. The installation of LED bulbs has the potential to save Duke as much as $188,000 in energy and operational costs. The new LEDs are expected to last about 40,000 hours, four times longer than the old bulbs. The retrofit is part of the university’s 2009 Climate Action Plan, which calls for the school to become climate neutral by 2024. In addition to saving energy, the lighting retrofit brings a uniform lighting scheme across the campus.

Sweetwater Union High School District in the San Diego, Calif., metropolitan area installed 3.3 MW of SunPower solar modules at six district schools. In addition, the school district signed a power purchase agreement with SunPower for a potential 6.4 MW of solar power systems at 16 additional campuses. Construction of these solar power systems is contingent upon SunPower receiving financing which, if received, would allow the additional campuses to be completed by the end of 2013. If constructed, the district should expect savings from all 22 systems of $6 million over the next 20 years. The SunPower systems will generate about 80 percent of the electricity demand at the campuses where they are located. At the six district schools, SunPower installed solar shade structures in school parking lots. Under terms of the power purchase agreements, Wells Fargo owns the systems that SunPower designs, builds, operates and maintains. The district is buying the electricity at rates that are competitive with retail electricity, minimizing the effect of rising electricity costs with no capital investment. The district owns the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the systems.

In McKinney, Texas, the McKinney Independent School District board adopted an energy-consciousness campaign, which will kickoff in April, to encourage energy-efficient behavior of students and staff, according to the McKinney Courier-Gazette. The school board adopted the plan based on a student-led model that has been a success at its Evans Middle School, where students created an energy-efficiency website and implemented Half-Watt Wednesdays and Watt-Watchers programs. On Half-Watt Wednesdays classrooms use just half their lights. And for Watt-Watchers, students patrol the school, reminding teachers to turn out lights when they’re not in use. A school energy manager will prepare a yearly energy use report so all the campuses can see their results. The Evans school earned a $10,000 prize when it was selected in January as one of 16 teams nationwide for the first-level Lexus Eco Challenge grant. The team is now competing for the $30,000 grand prize, with plans to spend the money to purchase Pavegen Energy Tiles. The tiles use people’s footsteps to power low-wattage hallway lights.

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