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October 03, 2014

New Database Shows Solar is Soaring in Schools

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Solar is soaring to the top of the class.

Recently, the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released their National Solar Schools Census, the most extensive database of it’s kind, that catalogues all solar-powered K-12 schools in the U.S.

The goal of the database is to serve “as a starting point for sharing ideas and best practices between schools experienced with solar energy and those seeking to join their ranks.” And from the looks of it, they’ve already got a head start.

According to the report, there have been more than 3,700 solar systems installed on U.S. schools, which in turn powers the education of almost 2.7 million students each day. But that’s just a small fraction of solar’s potential in education. An estimated 72,000 schools -- that’s 60 percent of all schools nationwide -- can still cost-effectively go solar. To put that into perspective, that would be the equivalent of taking one million vehicles off the road.

And that number is expected to continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

In the last six years alone, solar’s rate of installation at schools has jumped by 110 percent, and over the past four years, the cost of installation has fallen by more than 50 percent. If this trend continues -- and experts predict that it will -- we can expect a sunnier future for our students.

At a time when transitioning to clean energy is a key weapon in tackling the climate crisis, that’s huge.  

Already, climate disruption is fuelling an increase in sea level rise, Arctic ice melting, decreasing wildlife, unchecked wildfires, severe droughts, and extreme temperatures. Without immediate action -- both globally and in our own backyards -- our communities will see these dangers increase and our children will come to recognize them as the new normal.

And that’s just the half of it. Already, unchecked carbon pollution from each coal-fired power plant leads to 491 asthma attacks and 22 asthma-related emergency room visits each year, many of those children. When you couple the effects on children’s health with the time spent missing school as a result of illness, the true cost of carbon pollution for children is staggering.

Luckily, many schools are taking action and cutting carbon pollution by switching to solar. These schools are not only helping to protect the health of their students, but they’re giving the next generation a leg up.

With the potential for solar schools nearly endless, that’s an A+ in our books.

Are your curious to see if your school made the switch to solar? Check out the interactive map.

-- Sierra Club Media Team

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