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Flex Your Power!
 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource
Energy Resources » Alternative Energy Sources

Energy Resources

Alternative Energy Sources

Photo of a 2 solar panels atop a building roof, collecting solar heat for heating water for the boiler system;  photo's caption, 'Solar energy opportunities exist to enable schools to install solar thermal systems such as the one pictured.'  Photo excerpted with permission from CHPS. Diagram of pool being heating using 'solar collectors' through a series of pipes, pumps, and controls;  diagram's caption, 'Diagram illustrating the system of heating a pool using solar heat.  (1) Control panel (2) Solar sensor (3) Water valve (4) Solar collectors (5) Pool pump. (1-5 are labels on the diagram).  Diagram excerpted with permission from CHPS.

About 50% of California's energy comes from non-renewable, fossil fuel based sources. Another 14% comes from nuclear, and another 15 % comes from large-scale hydrologic power plants. All of these sources of power, constituting almost 80% of the power consumed in the state, come with tremendous environmental cost. Using onsite renewable energy helps to reduce the amount of these fuels being used, while at the same time they educate students on the importance of renewable energy and environmental protection. With the financial incentives available through various grant and loan programs, solar and wind technologies have become more economically feasible for many school projects.

Visit our incentives section of our website to see what opportunities are available for alternative energy implementation.

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2: Other Equipment & Systems) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

State of California Solar School Program
The Solar Schools Program encourages the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at public schools by offering a rebate of up to 90 percent of the purchase and installation cost. School districts may also arrange for a loan from the California Energy Commission's Energy Efficiency Financing Program to cover the remaining 10 percent of project cost. Established in partnership with the California Power Authority, the Solar Schools Program's funds are available for a maximum of 20 kilowatts of PV within each school district and system cost must not exceed $8.50 per watt. These 20 kW may be installed as one system or as many systems on different schools within the district.

California Energy Commission (CEC) - Consumer Energy Center
The website provides recommendations and discussion materials concerning renewable energy. The site also contains information on incentives and other funding options.

Solar Schoolhouse
This program aims to install Solar Electric systems at schools and provide hands-on experience and curriculum in the classroom.

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)
IREC's website include the Schools Going Solar Program (formerly the PV4You Program), the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), connecting to the Grid Project, the PV National Consumer Project, the Schools Going Solar Initiative, Community Outreach, the Certification Project, the Workshop-in-a-Box Program, the Annual Renewable Energy Recognition Awards, Videos, Public Service Announcements, Guides, and Newsletters. is a directory of renewable products and resources for energy and material uses. Includes guidance and educational material as well.

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy. It includes a state-by-state database of 'Schools Going Solar' programs.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
As a leading center for renewable energy and energy efficiency research, NREL is developing new energy technologies to benefit both the environment and the economy. Resources include research on techniques and technologies, programs, news, events, and markets available for the purpose of renewable energy implementation.

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