Oakland USD Adds Solar To Reduce Energy Costs, Increase STEM Opportunities

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has installed solar panels at 16 schools, totaling 3.6 megawatts. In addition to energy, the installations will provide STEM education opportunities for OUSD students.

Installed by SunPower, the photovoltaic systems are mounted on rooftops and parking lot shade structures and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 2,500 tons per year, equivalent to removing nearly 12,000 cars from the road over the length of their 25-year lifespan.

"Educational programs provided by SunPower to OUSD include Project Lead the Way engineering programs for four district elementary schools, professional development for teachers to learn about solar design and installation and participation in the SunPower Solar Science Academy," according to a news release. "The Solar Academy is a one week summer project- and work-based learning program that immerses students and teachers in a solar-focused curriculum that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Students gain work-ready skills in team collaboration, problem solving and public speaking while learning real world technical skills to design and perform financial analysis for residential solar systems."

"Oakland Unified School District wants to reduce its impact on the environment through the use of clean renewable energy, which also dramatically reduces utility expenses and energy use, providing us with the savings to enhance academic programs and support our teachers," said OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson, in a prepared statement. "We are also excited to be working with SunPower in an effort to expand the learning opportunities for our students and expose them to linked learning initiatives that will help them become college and career ready."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].