While school districts in many areas of the country face difficulties in passing bonds to fix crumbling schools, in California, the residents of San Mateo County have stepped out ahead with Measure J. And this isn’t your typical building improvement bond measure—it comes with funding for what’s said to be the largest K-12 solar and energy efficiency program in the very green county, encompassing 15 elementary, middle and high school sites in the South San Francisco Unified School District.
All told, these solar power systems are expected to add up to 1.68 megawatts of generating capacity, cutting the district’s annual electrical usage in half and reducing its carbon emissions by more than 1,500 metric tons, the equivalent of planting 330 acres of pine. This should prove a boon to taxpayers, too; over the next 25 years, the solar installations are expected to help the district save around $20 million in utility bills.
Measure J, approved by voters in November 2010, raised $162 million to improve school infrastructure and enhance the student learning environment. One of the goals central to the bond was to improve the classroom learning environment through the integration of advanced technologies, which the solar power project fulfills by bringing “high-performing energy efficient technologies” into the classroom.
The South San Francisco Unified School District’s solar power systems were designed, engineered and installed by Chevron Energy Solutions, which will also be operating, maintaining, and guaranteeing their performance for 20 years. As part of the district’s drive toward efficiency, the company has also implemented energy efficiency improvements in the district’s lighting, irrigation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which are expected to provide better lighting quality and aesthetics, lower maintenance costs and an improved indoor climate for students and staff alike.
Chevron will also provide professional development for teachers, curriculum materials and hands-on experiments aligned with the state of California’s educational standards to help create a “living laboratory” that promotes environmental awareness and energy consciousness.