Green Energy Ohio has had a long association with efforts to promote solar schools. Ohio Schools Going Solar began in the spring of 1999 – even before GEO came into existence – with the installation of a 2-kilowatt photovoltaic array at Bluffsview Elementary School in the Worthington School District. The program began as a partnership between the school district, the Foundation for Environmental Education, AEP’s Learning from Light program, the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy Efficiency (ODOD/OEE), and the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) By 2003, there were 47 participants in Ohio Schools Going Solar , including public and private schools, zoos, museums, colleges and universities in 22 counties across Ohio. Many of those systems were installed by GEO founding business member Third Sun Solar. Educational support for the program was provided through the Ohio Energy Project. Participating schools became a partner in the U.S. DOE’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. Throughout the years, GEO has worked with partner organizations like these to spread the word on the educational, financial, and environmental benefits available to schools who choose to “Go Solar.”
GEO also worked in the governmental arena to ensure support for school districts considering solar installations. In 2008, Senate Bill 221 – which established Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) – also directed the Ohio School Facilities Commission (now the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) to adopt standards for solar ready equipment in school buildings under their jurisdiction. The term “solar ready” was defined as capable of accommodating the installation of roof-top photovoltaic equipment, including space limitations, shading and obstruction, building orientation, roof loading capacity, and electrical systems. The requirements were incorporated into the Ohio School Design Manual and in administrative rules approved in 2012.
There is now a generation of young adults who grew up with solar power on their schools, and who have become ambassadors for renewable energy!