Case studies

Academic: Aspire Public Schools

The organization’s vision is for every student to be prepared to earn a college degree. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit charter management organization, Aspire is committed to serving its communities within an efficient and cost-effective model.

Now in its 20th year, Aspire Public Schools serves 17,000 scholars in 40 schools across California and Memphis, Tennessee. Over the next five years, Aspire is aiming to expand their reach to serve 20,000 students. With so many schools under its purview, Aspire also is a significant real estate owner with dozens of schools in its portfolio.

With the organization’s focus on providing a rigorous instructional program, Aspire has limited bandwidth and budget for investing in facilities upgrades or clean energy — and enjoying the associated financial and environmental benefits. When the organization found an opportunity to pursue clean energy, it needed to find a partner capable of helping it leverage multiple sources of capital, each with unique requirements — and across more than two-dozen sites to boot.

To realize the benefits of clean energy and efficiency through conventional means would require juggling several vendors — including lighting and HVAC contractors, rooftop solar installers and engineering consultants. With limited time to take advantage of these funds and implement the projects, Aspire needed a partner who could handle the entire process across multiple sites.

Enter Carbon Lighthouse. Our primary deliverable is the guaranteed financial savings we secure through our data-driven approach called Efficiency Production. Rather than dealing with dozens of vendors, Aspire could rely on us to handle the entire process to ensure that they found the most financially-attractive solution. We both identified and implemented the clean energy and efficiency upgrades, which created the financial and environmental impacts Aspire desired. Meanwhile, the Carbon Lighthouse performance guarantee meant that Aspire could be confident that it would realize the financial value of the Efficiency Reserves.

Technical Details

Scoping and implementing a clean energy project at a single site is complex enough, and doing so across dozens of aging sites is even tougher. We identified significant Efficiency Reserves across 27 schools after analyzing the portfolio. Our analysis led us to determine that the most financially and environmentally impactful actions would be a mix of rooftop solar and efficiency measures such as upgraded thermostats, monitoring centralization, lighting and HVAC. We worked on school sites across California, from Oakland to Sacramento and Los Angeles. And we did so while navigating the complexities of regulatory guidelines necessitated by the funds Aspire had secured.

Some of the clean energy and efficiency measures include:

  • Installing 1.22 Megawatts (MW) of solar on a variety of roofs operating in different climates.
  • Established solar monitoring system to ensure performance.
  • Integrating both digital and wireless thermostats across dozens of facilities so Aspire’s home office can centralize insight into distributed equipment.
  • Alleviating safety concerns through the replacement of an outdated boiler at one site.
  • Discovering that one school did not have a gas supply to the remote terminal unit (RTU), which we rectified through the replacement of RTUs and thermostats.


  • Immediately cash-accretive, guaranteeing $600,000 in savings.
  • Reduced Aspire’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 1,000 tons annually, the equivalent of avoiding the burning of 2,315 barrels of oil.
  • Promoted environmental education during a lunchtime assembly at select schools.
  • Improved student, teacher and administrator comfort.
  • 5-year contract.

Implementing clean energy projects with complex requirements across dozens of sites is challenging enough — and guaranteeing that the energy savings persist long-term can be even more so. We’re able to guarantee building energy performance through our data-driven Efficiency Production process.

“We found an amazing partner in Carbon Lighthouse for lessening our organization’s impact on the environment and reducing our utility bills. Carbon Lighthouse has been extremely professional in providing complete and seamless project management for projects involving lighting retrofits, HVAC system & controls replacement and up-gradation, and solar array installations.” – Rajesh Varma, Facilities Project Manager at Aspire Public Schools.

Our results assurance team will continue to deliver the energy savings performance of these several sites to make sure that Aspire is receiving the financial and environmental benefits we predicted. If the savings fall short, we take corrective action by either cutting a check or fixing the problem free of charge. As is our standard, there is no cost to Aspire for these ongoing services.

We are proud to partner with an organization dedicated to improving the lives of students and to be providing such strong financial value to these schools — for which each operational penny saved means more value for Aspire’s scholars and families served.

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