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Solar Classroom Update: Making Clean Energy Upgrades a Back-to-School Priority

August 21, 2013 - 2:52pm

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Watch as Aaron Sebens, a fourth-grade teacher in Durham, North Carolina, gives an update on his student's solar-powered classroom project.

This week, Energy.gov is heading back to school. We’ll be featuring stories on the role students and schools play in driving America’s energy economy -- from installing solar in the classroom to advancing innovations as interns at the National Labs. Stay up to date on our back-to-school week series by checking in with us everyday on Energy.govTwitterFacebook and Google+.

It’s five weeks into the school year at the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina, and each and every week, the students in Aaron Sebens's fourth-grade class have successfully used solar energy to power their classroom. “We’re able to run everything we want to off of our solar electricity,” said Aaron.

Back in June, we brought you Aaron’s story, an educator who inspired his students to problem-solve their way to a solar-powered classroom. One of the most important takeaways from the experience: clean energy upgrades are more within reach than many realize. “Fourth graders can understand how solar power works and that it can work for everyone,” said Aaron.

Every year, K-12 schools in the U.S. spend $6 billion on energy costs. To address high-energy expenditures, thousands of schools across the country are investing in comprehensive clean energy upgrades -- from solar installations to added insulation to air sealing. Comprehensive energy upgrades for schools can provide a range of benefits – boosting efficiency, improving heating and cooling and increasing comfort. Probably the most important benefit, these investments can help schools lower energy bills – allowing them to spend more money on educating students.

Interested in tackling clean energy improvements at your school? Although geared towards school district administrators, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Financing Energy Upgrades for K-12 School Districts is a resource for educators, parents and even students interested in learning about strategies to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs for schools. The free guide provides details on financing options available to K-12 schools, comprehensive case studies, and information on partnering with the Energy Department to boost schools’ efficiency.

To inspire you to pursue clean energy upgrades at school, in your community or at home, check out Aaron’s video update on the solar-powered classroom above.

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