Dreaming Big: Zero Net Energy Schools

Did you know that across the U.S., K-12 schools are spending billions of dollars annually on energy—more than what’s spent on computers and textbooks combined. At SDG&E, we believe in investing in clean, innovative solutions that will not only forge a path to a more sustainable future, but also set an example for the next generation of leaders.

Today, we joined the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to mark the launch of a sustainability pilot project that will transform Vista Grande Elementary School’s main building into a zero net energy (ZNE) site. Building healthier communities starts from the ground up and that’s what this innovative project aims to do.

“This is a project that will truly benefit the environment,” said Trustee Kevin Beiser of the San Diego Unified School District. “Our children need to inherit a world that is better than we left it and turning Vista Grande into a ZNE school is one way to do it.”

Clean + smart + sustainable = Zero net energy

Generally, a ZNE building produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy use, thus reducing the use of non-renewable sources.

More and more schools are striving to meet ZNE goals to save energy, save money, and forge the path to a cleaner, greener future.

In 2013, the California Energy Commission adopted Prop 39, requiring schools across the state to evaluate and manage their energy use and carry out energy efficiency upgrades. Since then, San Diego schools have been among the leaders statewide.

Solar, rebates and more

As part of the Prop 39 initiative, we have partnered with SDUSD to bring energy efficiency best practices and introduce new technologies and smart solutions to turn local schools into clean, sustainable facilities, including the ZNE project at Vista Grande Elementary.

By installing a solar system, LED lights, an energy efficient water cooler, as well as upgrading the building’s HVAC system at Vista Grande, the district is expected to save nearly $90,000 a year—dollars that can be put back into vital education programs.

This project is one of 77 planned projects under Prop 39, which is helping San Diego Unified save more than 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity, $225,000 in cost savings and a reduction of 815 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions!

Once all the projects are complete, SDUSD is estimated to save $1.4 million that will go back to supporting education and serves as a big step towards achieving a cleaner region.

Click here to read more about how we’re collaborating with San Diego Schools to help reduce energy use and build healthier communities.