Eshone Energy joins in the official
celebration of Washington Elementary’s successful completion and operation as
the first public school in the Berkeley Unified School District to Go Solar.
It’s been six months since the Solar Power System was installed on the roof of Washington Elementary in Berkeley. The dust has settled, the Solar Panels are running efficiently, and people feel good about it. Perfect reasons to throw a party and that’s just what Tom and Jane Kelly, founders of KyotoUSA did the evening of February 23, 2009 at their West Berkeley office. This HELiOS celebration brought together many of the people who’d played some part in bringing this project to fruition. Attendees included Berkeley Mayor, Tom Bates, Council Member and Architect of Record, Tom Butt, BUSD board members, Eshone Energy, Facilities Director Lew Jones, parents, a folk singer, students and a host of sponsors who’d devoted money, time and energy to this Solar Project.
What makes this particular solar project significant, aside from being the first public school in the district to Go Solar and being the largest Solar Project thus far for Berkeley, is that it’s an excellent model illustrating how well the individual school’s needs are addressed when it comes to creating the best Solar Power System for the school. Tom Kelly’s HELiOS Model showed how to install a Renewable Energy System on their school while making it cost-neutral for the School District from day one. And Eshone Energy carried out an energy audit that allowed the school to strategize on how to reduce their carbon footprint in the most cost effective way (this Energy Audit is a free service provided to those schools that want to be ready to go when the Stimulus Package funding arrives).
Yoel Hanegbi, the CEO of Eshone Energy, said, “Eshone always works with the school to find the optimal design and funding. In this case, we ran into the unexpected condition in the roof structure and worked with the architect and the DSA to approve our alternative solution in record time, allowing us to flip the switch on schedule.”
Another feature specific to Washington Elementary was the installation of water bibs, which helps with the system maintenance. “In addition,” said Guy Robby, Operations Manager, “Eshone installed an upgrade feature from Fat Spaniel, a weather station that incorporates real time measurements and can be viewed on the web. This is useful for marketing and education as well as for operations and maintenance purposes.”
Julia Jafari, Eshone’s Regulation and Compliance Manager points out that, “Eshone is very attentive to the local needs of the community when we install Solar Power Systems. In each project, we contact the local government to learn about their training center, tap into their resources, and employ local employees and apprentices whenever possible.”
The thing about Schools Going Solar is that it becomes fertile ground for other Green Projects. Going Solar stimulates students, parents, board members, and the surrounding community into taking positive action. “When a group of parents at Washington School first heard the news that there was a proposal for their school to be retrofitted with solar panels, it caused quite a buzz”, says Linda Currie, a graphic designer (Download SamTrans3.10.09webnew) and a former parent at Washington School. “After Tom Kelly brought news of the proposal to a PTA meeting, parents formed a working group and this group worked with Tom, coming up with some good ideas for energy efficiencies.”
Linda goes on to note that soon the word got out to the teachers, students and community as a whole. A new awareness arose. Parents started working with Safe Routes for Schools, a county-wide program to encourage safe ways to get students to school without being driven. Folk singer Nancy Schimmel wrote a song about the Washington solar project, and soon the whole school was singing. The PTA planned a Spring Fair, with a green-focus, to celebrate the kick-off of the upcoming solar installation. The fair was complete with a station for making solar ovens out of a pizza boxes, a bike-powered smoothie maker and bike-powered hayride. At the end of the fair, there was very little waste, thanks to the compostable cups, plates and utensils.
“Being a part of the Washington Solar Project,” Linda concludes, “taught me that parents can be powerful agents of change in our communities in creating a more sustainable future for our children and our planet.”
Green is definitely bearing fruit in Berkeley…and in surrounding
cities. The success of this Berkeley Solar Project convinced three
more schools in other school districts to sign construction contracts with Eshone
Energy this summer. Here's a 3-minute video on the process, progress and completion of the project. Bring on the sun!
Going Green is definitely bearing fruit in Berkeley…and in surrounding cities. The success of this Berkeley Solar Project convinced three more schools in other school districts to sign construction contracts with Eshone Energy this summer.
Here's a 3-minute video on the process, progress and completion of the project. Bring on the sun!