As a company committed to stopping climate change, we at Carbon Lighthouse spend a lot of time thinking about the next generation. While we work to make it easy and profitable today for building owners to eliminate carbon emissions caused by wasted energy, the most meaningful payoff will be enjoyed by our children and all who come after us.
Last week, we were honored to join hundreds of others also focused on the next generation — teachers, trustees, development directors, and more — to discuss what Hawaii’s leading schools of the future are prioritizing at the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS) Leading Schools of The Future Conference.
The challenges and opportunities of climate action in education
During his keynote, Dr. Yong Zhao, foundation distinguished professor at University of Kansas, called for a paradigm shift in education to data-driven solutions, similar to the data-driven solutions that are enabling the shift toward a clean energy future. Eric Brown, VP of Business Development at Carbon Lighthouse, addressed the audience on the dual challenges and opportunities of tackling climate change in the education sector.
Nowhere is the social and economic opportunity of clean energy and efficiency more recognized than in Hawaii — it was the first state to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy requirement for electricity generation. And if any sector stands to benefit immensely from profit-driven carbon elimination, it’s education. Schools exist to prepare the next generation for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow — and it’s no secret that many of them could use a fresh stream of financial resources.
Thousands of schools across the nation already have realized the financial and other benefits of installed solar energy capacity. The large, flat rooftops typically found on public and private K-12 school buildings throughout the United States make many of these properties excellent candidates for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Clean energy can create financial value for schools
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, if each of the more than 72,000 schools across the country for which solar could represent a cost-effective investment were to install an average-sized system, total PV capacity on K-12 schools would reach 5.4 GW. This amount is equal to more than one-third of all the solar PV capacity currently installed in the United States. That’s a lot of potential for positive impact, and cost-savings for schools.
Carbon Lighthouse already has helped schools across the nation tap into their own Efficiency Reserves to eliminate carbon while creating financial value. At Prospect Sierra, an independent K-8 school in the San Francisco Bay Area, we helped the school achieve its sustainability goals while generating a significant financial return. A $400,000 investment yielded $2.7 million in savings through a turnkey energy efficiency and solar PV project Carbon Lighthouse completed.
We can’t wait to partner with more schools across the country and in Hawaii to help create new sources of financial value while making a major positive environmental impact to stop climate change.