I hope that my Roots & Shoots project educates the students, teachers, and administrators at the Churchill High School in New York City of the importance of solar energy by removing the mystery surrounding solar panels. Additionally, I hope my project inspires Churchill to play an active role in joining those schools in New York City who have already received solar panels from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ‘One City, Built to Last’ green buildings incentive, as well as those who are scheduled to receive them. Finally, it is my great hope that my Roots & Shoots project inspires the next generation of solar energy activists.
In September of 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major investment in solar power in the NYC public school system. As part of the Mayor’s ‘One City, Built to Last’ green buildings incentive, 24 solar energy installations would be funded and installed in selected public school buildings. According to his proposal, the benefits would be significant:
“The planned 6.25 MW of solar power at these 24 installations will result in a reduction of more than 2,800 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking over 600 cars off the road every year. The solar installations will be paired with an environmental curriculum plan, including dashboards and web portals where students can track in real time what the systems are generating and the amount of emissions that have been offset, and undertake related analyses of the systems’ impacts.” (http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/457-14/mayor-de-blasio-major-solar-investment-city-schools-key-component-new-green#/0)
My Roots & Shoots Project will build on Mayor de Blasio’s incentive and consider what it will take to turn the Churchill School & Center, an independent K-12 school for students with language-based learning disabilities in New York City (where I am currently a Junior), into a solar energy powered educational facility. In order to do this, I will examine and assess the viability of Churchill “going solar”, and becoming a state-of-the-art solar panel model for other schools to follow.
The questions I hope to answer are:
• Why should Churchill go solar?
• What will it take for Churchill to install solar panels?
• What will it cost for the purchase and installation of solar panels?
• What is the timeframe?
• What will Churchill gain by going solar?
I will organize a symposium for the students and teachers of the Churchill High School. I will invite two solar energy specialists to discuss the benefits of solar energy as well as the actual installation of solar panels into a building like the Churchill School and Center (301 East 29th Street, NY, NY 10016). The first speaker will address the issue of solar energy as it relates to both our immediate environment as well as our planet. This speaker will address the “controversy” some people insist surrounds the issue of climate change. The second speaker will be a certified and licensed solar contractor who will conduct a hands-on training session in which the concepts presented by the first speaker will be put into practice. This hands-on training session will involve actual one-on-one building practices in order to truly engage a room full of (possibly apathetic) high school students. The contractor will actually teach us how to build and install a solar panel!
The benefits of solar energy have been scientifically proven and documented. These benefits are vast, far-reaching and, at this moment in time, critical for the well-being of the Earth. As reported in the 2016 Energy.gov report, the benefits of solar energy include environmental advantages such as the preservation of our natural habitats, the reduction of our carbon footprint, and the reduction and eventual elimination of climate change. Additionally, there are economic benefits such as the creation of new jobs. Currently, solar power accounts for approximately 1% of our nation’s power, but as the cost for fossil fuels increases, and the price for solar panels decreases, solar energy could be the solution, even for people who don’t want to see the problem. (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_in_the_united_states).
I hope that my Roots & Shoots project educates the students, teachers, and administrators at the Churchill High School in New York City of the importance of solar energy by removing the mystery surrounding solar panels. Additionally, I hope my project inspires Churchill to play an active role in joining those schools in New York City who have already received solar panels, as well as those who are scheduled to receive them. Finally, it is my great hope that my Roots & Shoots project inspires the next generation of solar energy activists.