Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders of industry and political decisionmakers. That puts an awful lot of pressure on today’s educators to not just teach the facts, but also mold the minds and shape the behaviors of those students to create a better future.
For far too long, we’ve accepted harmful byproducts and unwanted side effects in the name of progress. Regardless of your belief in global warming and climate change, one universally accepted byproduct of industry has been a significant reduction in available natural resources. But the good news is that technology and innovation has caught up with need, and we now have viable alternatives to fossil fuels, including:
Clean and sustainable energy is no longer a pipe dream. In fact, in many cases, opting for solar is just good business. But even more importantly, choosing solar for our schools and universities sends a message to our leaders of tomorrow: sustainability is critical to the long-term wellbeing of humanity, and well worth the investment.
Invest in Education
Providing top-notch education to students is not cheap. In fact, it’s quite costly. As administrators try to balance quality educational curriculums and atmospheres with a finite budget, we see the same themes again and again:
Budget cuts in the form of larger classroom sizes or a reduction in extra-curriculars in our K-12 schools
Tuition hikes year after year in our colleges and universities.
The schools’ administration can’t be blamed. They’re simply doing their best with the undesirable hand that they’re dealt. But what if there was another way to save money?
Operational costs are a part of every school’s budget. One of the largest such costs is energy. Heating, cooling, lighting, power for the computers – these items add up to a very large annual energy bill. With little-to-no money down, schools can begin using solar energy and drastically reduce their operational expenses. How much, you ask?
- An average K-12 school saves $21,000/year in operating costs
- Colleges/Universities can save well over $100,000/year (results vary based on size and location)
This cost savings can be reinvested right back into the school, providing additional staff, better facilities, computers, scholarships, and more.
Invest in the Earth
In terms of sheer size, a K-12 school is typically much larger than your average office building. Meanwhile, colleges and universities typically span multiple city blocks and include dozens of buildings. It’s not a leap, then, to say that schools have a fairly large carbon footprint.
Over the past couple of decades, we’ve learned a few things:
- The earth’s natural resources are not limitless, and the proverbial well is beginning to run dry for items such as coal and oil.
- Burning fossil fuels produce harmful emissions, and those emissions are damaging the earth’s o-zone layer.
By opting for solar power, schools and universities can drastically reduce their carbon footprint immediately. What sort of reductions are we talking about?
- An average school saves more than 80 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions/year
- An average school reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 11 pounds/year. NOx creates ground-level o-zone, which adversely affects the human respiratory system.
It’s naïve to think that we can stop using fossil fuels overnight; and it remains to be seen whether we can repair the damage we’ve already done. But the time has come to adopt cleaner, more sustainable means.
Invest in Innovation
Within the past decade, STEM has become a pretty popular buzzword, phrase, and idea. It stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The idea, quite simply, is to push today’s students toward degrees in these fields in the hopes of better innovation tomorrow.
Grass roots STEM program initiatives have been popping up all over the United States during this time. Getting students interested in the sciences at an early age, in theory, is the key to having them continue on that educational path through college/university.
In an effort to help expand the STEM initiatives, TerraSol Energies offers learning opportunities to empower students with expanded project-based learning, internships, and career placement in the solar industry. Through the SunPower Horizons™ Program, STEM initiatives are expanded to include solar technologies and other renewable energies.
An Investment in Students is an Investment in Sustainability
Children and young adults may be impressionable, but they’re certainly not dummies. Whether we are talking about second graders or undergrads, students have a way of snuffing out the fake and the phony – and rejecting it accordingly. Students want to be talked WITH, not talked AT. Students gravitate toward and absorb that which is real, that which is genuine.
Placing our teachers at the front of a classroom and asking them to preach sustainable energies and clean solutions is great – but if the school districts and the universities aren’t walking the walk while their teachers and professors are talking the talk, it makes the message much less believable.
If we want tomorrow’s world leaders to prioritize sustainability, we need to SHOW them that WE prioritize sustainability.
Opting for solar power for your school or university sends a powerful message: the time is now to make the commitment to our future.