The Stockton Unified School District, which serves 40,000 students, has selected Sage Energy Consulting to help make it California’s first ‘Zero-Emission School District utilising solar power, battery storage, electric school buses and EV charging stations.
Stockton School Energy Patrol, Stockton Unified School District, California
In this way, the district will take a significant step towards reducing pollution and improving air quality while saving money on energy, with a $4.8 million California Climate Investments grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Sage Energy Consulting, based in the Bay Area, will now help the district develop an energy roadmap to reach net-zero emissions as part of its “Getting Stockton Schools to Zero Emissions: Clean Air for Our Community” plan.
The strategy will involve integrating solar panels, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging stations; adding battery-electric school buses that avoid diesel exhaust; and addressing other forms of energy use by teachers, students, and maintenance staff. Sage will calculate the savings both in terms of emissions and avoided costs.
“The Stockton School District’s commitment to sustainability is setting a great example for their students and school districts all over the country” said Brent Johnson, managing principal of Sage.”Together, with our project partners, we will develop and implement a plan for a healthier community and a greener California, adding to the district’s energy savings, and helping other school districts benefit from their experience.”
Getting to zero-emissions will involve a comprehensive look at the entire school district’s energy footprint. Plans include leveraging state incentives for stationary batteries to optimize charging of electric vehicles from the solar panels, making the renewable electricity they generate available 24/7 and not just when the sun is shining.
Converting to electric lawn equipment will also help: according to CARB, operating a gas lawnmower for one hour emits as much air pollution as driving 300 miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
The Stockton school district has a history of innovation in sustainability at its 55 schools, where 82 percent of the students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. In the first five years of its program, the district not only cut energy usage but saved over $9.3 million. Existing programs include a student energy patrol, and an online dashboard for each school that displays how much solar power it has generated, its savings on gasoline and water, and the equivalent in the number of trees planted.
The CARB project team also includes the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), Schneider Electric, and The Mobility House, as well as Sage Energy Consulting and the school district. Together they will step up outreach and education aimed at students, teachers and staff, the Stockton community, and other school districts that can benefit from the lessons learned and savings they achieve.
Sage has successfully helped more than 85 school districts plan and implement money-saving energy projects. Since 2009, both public and private clients have saved over $300 million and counting on their energy bills.