On Earth Day, Chancellor Fariña Announces Solar Installations at 101 School Buildings, Part of the Solar Schools Initiative

  • Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018

Solar Panel Installations Now Completed at 35 Schools Across New York City, With Solar Installations Planned at 66 More – Ultimately Generating Nearly 16MW of Solar Capacity. Schools Across City Celebrating Earth Day with Activities Focused on Sustainability

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced new solar installations at 101 schools across New York City. 

In partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the Department of Education (DOE) has completed 35 solar installations to date. Another 66 projects are planned and these 101 systems will ultimately produce 18,229,746.94 kilowatt-hours of electricity and reduce 5,620 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, a key step toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to retrofitting every public building by 2025 and dramatically reducing the City’s contributions to climate change – including a long-term goal of reducing total emissions 80 percent by 2050. 

In total, these solar installations will generate nearly 16 megawatts of capacity, a huge step toward Mayor de Blasio’s commitment of installing 100 megawatts of new solar capacity on public buildings by 2025. 

The solar panels are funded by the City, as well as through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and there will be an estimated annual cost savings of $2.2 million when all 101 projects are completed. Along with the installations, participating schools received an environmental curriculum plan, as well as solar dashboards and web portals. These tools give students the ability to track the amount of emissions that have been offset and the electricity the systems are generating in real time. 

“Students play a critical role in ensuring that New York City is providing a sustainable future, and the installation of the solar panels creates teachable moments that provide lessons for students on how to be stewards of the environment. Our larger sustainability initiatives also provide opportunities for important conversations about protecting the environment and being good citizens,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. 

“By installing solar power at public schools, we are showing our commitment to reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. These projects represent an important step towards reaching the City’s commitment to install 100 megawatts of solar power by 2025, while providing students with real-world examples of clean energy in action,” said Commissioner Lisette Camilo of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. 

“NYPA has worked closely with the City to implement these solar installations, so they can help reach Governor Cuomo’s goal of having half of all power used in the State come from renewable sources by 2030,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO. “Projects like these show students how they can help reduce our carbon footprint.” 

“This is a great example of the City’s effort to decarbonize its power supply by expanding the use of solar energy in schools," said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs. “The City is on its way toward achieving its OneNYC 80x50 goals, which will require creative efforts like this to scale up renewable energy investments in communities across the ‎city.” 

“Solar panels are frequently requested by schools, demonstrating our students' interest in sustainable activities and protecting our environment,” said Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose. “We are delighted to expand this initiative and deepen our students’ awareness of environmental science.” 

“The solar schools initiative is adding to our City’s record of leadership in urban sustainability," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Leveraging public property like school buildings for solar energy generation is a common-sense step that can tremendously reduce our CO2 emissions over time.” 

“We are proud that PS 62, the Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground, which opened this school year, is the first net zero energy school in our City,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “It means its students will be sustainability leaders of the future. The fact is that Staten Island residents and businesses have embraced solar energy, and we will continue to do so.” 

“The installation of these solar power systems at 12 schools in Queens and at 89 other locations citywide will benefit us all by helping the City limit its use of energy sources that produce environmentally harmful greenhouse gases,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “But it is our children who have the most to gain from these installations, because they are the ones who will face the consequences of a warming planet if we do not take strong action today. I commend Mayor de Blasio for making these solar installations a priority and the Department of Education, led by Chancellor Fariña, deserves great credit for bringing these installations to fruition, in partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the New York Power Authority.” 

“These solar panel installations set a positive example for the students we teach to be good stewards of the earth," said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "Because solar energy is sustainable, these panels will help dramatically reduce our City's carbon footprint. I will continue to work alongside Chancellor Fariña to make our schools more earth-friendly places.” 

“Installing solar systems at over 100 public schools across our City is key to our efforts to combat climate change this Earth Day,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council's Environmental Protection Committee. “Our children are our future and making our schools part of our efforts to increase use of renewable energy will expose students to sustainable technologies, as well as reduce emissions from schools. These solar installations will reduce over 5,600 tons of emissions, a significant step toward reaching our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. We look forward to continuing this rate of installation in coming years and ensuring our city-owned buildings continue to lead in reducing our carbon footprint 80 percent by 2050. I thank Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina for her leadership on this important issue.” 

Schools in all five boroughs are celebrating Earth Day with activities focused on sustainability and green initiatives. Students are participating in environmental initiatives to conserve energy, increase recycling and reduce their school’s carbon footprint, including solar displays, eco-tours and workshops on various topics including recycling, composting, planting, and pruning. 

This year’s Earth Day events are part of the DOE’s larger sustainability initiative, focused on launching and expanding a variety of programs across the City centered on sustainability, energy conservation and waste reduction in schools. In partnership with the Department of Sanitation and GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions program, the DOE is launching the Zero Waste Schools this fall to more effectively manage waste in school buildings by maximizing recycling and organics separation and minimizing trash. 

In addition to phasing out the use of the highly pollutant No. 6 fuel in all buildings, the DOE is consistently and carefully auditing buildings to identify ways to continue to reduce energy consumption, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to retrofitting all public buildings by 2025. The DOE also partners with several environmental organizations, including working with Grow to Learn NYC to create and sustain over 550 school gardens, many of which are incorporated into lunch meals served through SchoolFood’s Garden to Café initiative. Several schools are also involved in the green roof program, creating green roofs by planting vegetation as well as installing solar panels and rain catchment systems. 

The DOE is ensuring students are served high-quality foods in a sustainable way by converting from using a polystyrene tray to an eco-friendly compostable plate in schools for the more than one million meals served each day. In partnership with the Urban School Food Alliance, the DOE is also in the process of sourcing compostable utensils to complement the plate. 

More information on the DOE’s sustainability efforts is available online in the sustainability section
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