Austin Continues to Be Green With New Solar Initiative

Austin’s tendency to uphold green energy continued at a recent City Council meeting
where a plan was approved to have one of Austin Independent School District’s newest schools
use supplemental solar power.

The unfinished school broke ground in August of last year, and still lacks a name, but for
now it’s called “North Central Elementary School Number 2.” The campus is set to open this
August.

The agenda from the April 10 meeting of the Austin City Council describes a ten-year
plan “to provide a performance-based incentive for the generation of solar energy.” The
undertaking is part of a collaboration between AISD and Austin Energy.

This won’t be the first time AISD has used solar energy for one of its campuses. Scott
Rouse, senior project manager of AISD’s Department of Construction Management said that
because solar energy has been successful at other AISD campuses, the district plans to
implement it broadly.

“Although the 245 kilowatt installation at North Central Elementary School Number 2 will
not bring this facility to a net-zero school, the energy generation and 12-year return on
investment will greatly reduce the yearly electrical cost at the campus,” Rouse said.

Local environmentalist Luke Metzger, director of the advocacy group Environment
Texas, said he believes solar power in schools is a logical step forward.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Metzger said. “Solar is a pollution-free energy source [that]
never runs out. Solar power at schools makes a lot of sense; you can really include it into the
curriculum to have the kids learn about the environment.”

Although plans to have any AISD school go completely solar are not in the works, the District
will continue to be increasingly green.

“There will not be a full transition from electric to solar power at a campus, but there are
plans (through the 2013 Bond Program) to supplement the energy usage at various campuses,
using solar and other efficiency improvements,” Rouse said.

The 2013 Bond Program, part of Proposition 1 that passed in 2011, set aside $20 million for
energy conservation and efficiency.

“Approximately half of this allocation will be dedicated to solar,” Rouse said.
Rouse said ,the decision to have North Central Elementary School Number 2 be the next
in AISD’s series of schools supplemented by solar power because its design was just right.

“North Central Elementary School Number 2, having just completed its design, was a good
candidate for its orientation, roof slope and schedule to receive a new roof system. A feasibility study was conducted with the project engineer, who confirmed and recommended the solar [photovoltaic] system at this site.”

The District will notice the savings right away.
“Once the Solar PV system is installed at North Central Elementary School Number 2,”  Rouse
said, “energy savings from the supplemented power generated will be immediate.”

 

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