San Diego’s High Tech Schools Get More Solar

High Tech High School is a charter school that was launched in San Diego in 2000 by a coalition of local business leaders and educators. The school has since grown into a network of nine schools serving approximately 3500 student in grades K-12, and offering a teacher certification program and a new Graduate School of Education. Recently, the side-by-side High Tech Elementary and High Tech Middle schools in Chula Vista, Calif., became a little bit more high-tech. The schools have commissioned a 130-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) system on their shared campus – the third PV system to be installed in the High Tech school network.  The other systems include a 101-kW system at High Tech High in Chula Vista, and a 70-kW system at High Tech High in San Marcos.

The High Tech Elementary and High Tech Middle Chula Vista charter schools were designed to be nearly 26 percent more energy-efficient than required by California building codes, and are seeking LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

high-tech-PV-Chula-Vista

image via SDG&E

The system was installed as part of San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Sustainable Communities Program, which owns and provides maintenance support for a total of 3 megawatts of solar power, fuel cell and energy storage systems at schools, municipal facilities and multifamily mixed use developments in its service area. The program also provides a curriculum to help teachers integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency into their lesson plans.

According to David L. Geier, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E, the Sustainable Communities Program will soon begin incorporating advanced energy storage and electric vehicle charging stations. “These will serve as models for SDG&E’s smart grid that will ultimately predict and ‘intelligently’ respond to the changing needs and actions of customers by efficiently delivering sustainable energy when it’s most needed,” he said.

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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).