HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., May 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In culmination of five years of work enhancing the learning environment, Huntington Beach City School District (HBCSD) celebrated the site energization of the latest phase of solar and energy efficiency work during a ribbon cutting at Perry Elementary School yesterday. With local elected officials and regional leaders in attendance, District staff celebrated the most recent milestone in a long series of accomplishments in resource conservation, renewable power, and integrating hands-on science, technology, engineering, application, and math (STEAM) learning into its district-wide energy and education program with OpTerra Energy Services. The two-phased program will save the District $16.3 million in energy savings, and will impact their sixth grade and pre-school students engaged in STEAM activities.
Celebrating a Commitment to Environmental Action
In early 2010, HBCSD began what would become a multi-year partnership with OpTerra to transform the district's energy performance through a unique combination of solar and energy efficiency projects across nine schools, in addition to integrating STEAM education opportunities into the broader scope of work. Leveraging multiple funding sources, including $1.6 million in California Solar Initiative rebates and more recently, $1.4 million in Prop 39 funds, HBCSD administration prioritized building a paid-from-savings program to ensure that the District would have no out of pocket expenses during the development of the large-scale sustainability project.
As part of the early action activities that HBCSD implemented with OpTerra, they were able to build the first solar power systems located at an elementary school district in Orange County. With 1MW of solar now implemented across all schools, the District has achieved more than 70% in energy savings from demand-side management measures and solar PV savings. Over 150 jobs were created as a result of the local project.
The savings allow the District to redirect funds originally earmarked for energy costs to be used toward academics and initiatives that directly impact students. Representatives from the offices of Supervisor Steel, State Senator Moorlach, Assemblyman Harper, and Assemblyman Allen presented commendations with the district recognizing their leadership.
Superintendent Haulk shared that, "Through our recent completion of the second phase of this innovative sustainability impact project, HBCSD is building a tremendous legacy for taking on an engaged, early action mentality that we know other school districts can adopt to achieve similar success to address environmental and fiscal issues."
Empowering Students with Energy Education
Aligned with the district's commitment to coming out first on environmental issues, it was essential that the energy program also link to direct classroom learning – a first time opportunity for the district to take on such large-scale energy science through the lens of a growing STEAM program five years ago. Customized to complement the unique needs and interests of HBCSD's students and teachers across grade levels, the education program directly correlates to the energy infrastructure improvements. Some of the key activities OpTerra's Education Team has helped develop with HBCSD leadership include:
- Professional Development: OpTerra has developed a regular cadence of professional development activities for teachers focused on solar, wind, hydro, and other energy sources, with curriculum and in-class guidance for implementation in the classroom, from Pre-K through 8th grade hands-on learning.
- Live Data Aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards: Teachers and students access live energy production data from the photovoltaic systems via an interactive website. Classroom learning is supported through hands-on resources for solar electricity production and efficiency.
- Expanding Science Offerings: OpTerra developed a STEM program to support 6th grade students during the District's transition from one semester of science to a full year, using hands-on solar science modules as a foundation for extended learning opportunities.
Building a Bright Future
Community partners lauded Superintendent Haulk and Assistant Superintendent Archibald for their leadership in setting the bar for other schools and municipal sites across Orange County at yesterday's celebration event.
John Mahoney, CEO of OpTerra, shared, "Huntington Beach City School District is helping to illustrate how much success can be achieved in just a few years when a school district starts with energy as a foundation for long-term savings that have a positive effect in and outside the classroom. Through the dedication and vision of the leaders and administration willing to explore the possibilities to not only reduce energy use on campuses, but generate clean, renewable energy, HBCSD continues to shine as they deliver positive results to their community."
As their energy savings continue to grow, Huntington Beach City Schools plans to invest the ongoing, projected savings into continued STEM curricula and hands-on modules capable of nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.
About Huntington Beach City School District: For more information, please visit http://www.hbcsd.k12.ca.us/.
OpTerra Energy Services:
OpTerra Energy Services is a national energy company that works with education, local government, commercial, industrial, and institutional organizations to implement efficiency and sustainable energy solutions that save money, enhance safety, improve assets, and protect the environment. As a subsidiary of ENGIE, the number one energy efficiency services provider in the world, OpTerra Energy Services provides a unique and extensive set of energy and sustainability management services to thousands of customers across the U.S. The company has provided more than $2 billion in energy savings for its customers over the past 40 years. For more information, please visit www.opterraenergy.com or contact Lani Wild, Communications Manager, at 415-735-9080.
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SOURCE OpTerra Energy Services