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8. Use renewable energy sources when cost effective.

Renewable energy sources are solar (solar thermal or photovoltaic), wind, biomass and geothermal. Many of these renewable energy resources can be used to generate electricity at your school and might also provide unique educational opportunities for students.

Solar energy can be used to generate electricity in two ways. Photovoltaic (PV)cells can convert sunlight directly into electricity. Schools can use PV to replace or supplement electric power from the utility by installing solar cells on existing facilities or integrating solar cells into the design of a new facility.

The Childress High School in West Texas, began generating power on July 3, 1999, as the first Watts on School system provided by their local utility, American Electric Power. The system is rated at 4 kilowatts and is capable of producing enough energy each month to power a typical Texas home.

Solar thermal describes technologies that use the heat of the sun for heating water or producing electric power. Solar collectors can gather solar thermal energy in almost any climate to provide a reliable, low-cost source of energy for many applications. A solar hot water system or a passively heated building are examples of this type of energy.

Wind power is being successfully used in West Texas, where “wind farms” generate electricity as the wind turns turbines that look like sleek, high-tech windmills.

McKinney ISD’s Walker Elementary incorporated solar energy and wind energy in their sustainable school design. The solar collectors are used for domestic hot water and the windmill powers the circulation of the school’s rainwater collection system.

Wind power systems often incorporate additional generating systems, such as diesel generators or solar arrays. These "hybrid" systems provide improved reliability of power supply and operational flexibility. When the power from the wind turbine is not sufficient, the alternate power source comes on line.

Alternative Fuel. Where possible, consider converting school buses and other school vehicles to use alternative fuels. The State Energy Conservation office also offers an Alternative Fuels Curriculum and Teacher Training Program. The program integrates clean transportation fuels information into science courses for middle and high school students. The program has trained 937 Texas science teachers, who have taught more than 103,000 students about alternative fuels and the potential role of electricity and alternative fuels in a global climate change.

Materials for the curriculum consist of an introductory 13-minute video, 22 hands-on classroom activities, full color posters and other resources. The activities were field tested by more than 50 Texas science teachers and reviewed for accuracy by 18 technical experts.

Additional Resources:

Below is a list of additional resources you may find helpful. Information in the documents and URLs listed below are not necessarily endorsed by this agency, only provided as a resource.

High Performance School Buildings
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities)
Information on classroom materials for renewable energy education and a list of resources for sustainability.

Alternative Fuels Program
(State Energy Conservation Office)
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-531-5441, extension 3-1931

Renewable Energy Demonstration Program
(State Energy Conservation Office)
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-531-5441, extension 3-1931 and