Putting climate change in the classroom in new and exciting ways, Solar Schools offers a totally unique way to crowdfund clean energy for UK schools. Run by 10:10, a UK-based charity helping to tackle global warming, the Solar Schools program has helped schools raise £470,000 ($724,785) for solar installations, and installed over 800 solar panels in the last four years.
But Solar Schools points out that it “isn’t just about pounds and panels, it’s about making magic.” Building teams of school staff, students, parents, and volunteers, Solar Schools provides them with the training, support, and tools they need to crowdfund the cost of solar panels. Through the Solar Schools project, these teams build networks, learn new skills, and bring their communities together around the goal of providing solar energy for their schools.
Two Ways To Become Solar Schools
According to Solar Schools’ website statements, one of the reasons Solar Schools focuses on solar PV is “because its modular nature allows fundraising targets to be adapted to suit each individual school. Participating schools are free to select a target based on their roof capacity and level of ambition!”
For the coming 2015–16 school year, Solar Schools will be building 20 teams for a year-long crowdfunding effort involving hundreds of people and offering two different ways for schools to go solar — Solar Schools Classic and Solar Schools Community.
For schools with big roofs (or smaller fundraising ambitions), Solar Schools recommends the Solar Schools Community model. With Solar Schools Community, schools raise £5,000+ ($7,700+) and invest in a larger solar roof through a Community Benefit Society. The Community Benefit Society then oversees the installation, and owns the solar panels on the school roof. The school then enjoys a reduced price for electricity, gets a return on their investment for 20 years, and enjoys being responsible for eliminating a lot of carbon emissions from the Earth’s atmosphere.
For schools with small roofs (or big fundraising ambitions), Solar Schools suggests going with the Solar Schools Classic model. With the Solar Schools Classic program, schools raise £8,000–15,000 ($12,300–23,100), and own their own solar panels outright. Also, from day one, schools get 100% of the income made from selling excess energy back to the grid, and likewise feels great about huge carbon emission reductions.
Regardless of which program is chosen, Solar Schools promises to provide schools “with the tools and support they need to raise more than they ever have before.” For some, says Solar Schools, “that might be £5,000 ($7,700), for others, £50,000 ($77,000).” Whatever the amount might be, excitement builds when a school sets a fundraising goal for its very own solar project, and then magic happens when everyone chips in to help make the goal become a reality.
“The Whole School Is Buzzing With Positivity”
Solar Schools’ website is full of great testimony about the success of its programs. The following are some of the great quotes shared:
• “The children are so much more aware now of the environment and they’re still enthusiastic about it, and the panels, and they’ll introduce the school as ‘so we’re the school with the solar panels’… They’re really proud of what they’ve achieved and I think you can feel that in the school.”
• “The whole school is buzzing with positivity since we took part.”
• “Our Solar Schools highlight has been… seeing how supportive the local community and small businesses have been! They are keen to support us with money, time and resources to run events.”
• “The website was an inspirational way to fundraise and engage pupils, parents and the wider community. It was our first ever attempt to fundraise in this way and everyone loved it.”
In addition, Solar Schools reports that 87% of project volunteers consider it to have been “a positive experience for their whole school.” 73% of volunteers said they “felt closer to their community as a result,” and 100% said they “felt more skilled or confident thanks to the training and support they received through Solar Schools.”
This is an excellent opportunity for everyone from local businesses, community organizations, former and current students, teachers, and parents to give back to their local schools and do something positive about global warming at the same time. Solar Schools offers a really unique way of making that happen, by installing clean, renewable energy on school rooftops — Could your school be next?
Picture Credits: Top image, screenshot from homepage banner; Bottom image, Pendocks Primary School’s Solar Rooftop © Solar Schools