PV Tops School’s Array Of Green Features

American Canyon High School at the south end of California’s Napa Valley recently became home to a 1-megawatt (MW) ground- and rooftop-mounted photovoltaic (PV) system. The system consist of 4,000 American-made solar panels, and is expected to produce over 1.1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, enough to power over 105 average American homes, according to installer SPG Solar. The system will meet approximately 80 percent of the campus’s electricity demand, and save the school up to $17 million over the next 25 years.

American Canyon High School is one of the first schools to be certified by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) – a green building rating system for K-12 schools, similar to LEED. The school, which is the highest-ranking CHPS school in California, received $800,000 from the state to help pay for some of its high-performance features.

american canyon high school, solar

image via Quattrocchi Kwok Architects

In addition to the solar array, American Canyon boasts a large ground-source heat-pump system, a greywater system designed to use reclaimed, non-potable water to irrigate the grounds, and automatic lighting controls. The school was also designed to maximize daylighting – reducing the demand for artificial light.

The system was installed by SPG Solar in collaboration with Santa Rosa-based Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, designer of the school that opened last year. The school is part of the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD).

“The new solar power system at American Canyon High School is an excellent example of NVUSD’s leadership,” said Aaron Jobson, principal at Quattrocchi Kwok Architects. By building upon the sustainable design of their campus and showing their commitment to the environment the District will save a significant amount of money that can now be used for educational purposes.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).