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NRDC Launches the Solar Schools Revolution

Nathanael Greene

Posted October 7, 2013

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The politics in Washington, DC today—the shutdown, the debt ceiling, the finger pointing—it’s enough to make even a policy wonk like me say “yuck!” This is America. We’re a can-do country, but it doesn’t seem like this Congress can do anything.

We can do something, though. Something upbeat and local and smart: put solar on our kids’ schools. That’s why next week, NRDC is launching Solar Schools: Powering Classrooms, Empowering Communities. Our plan, ultimately, is to help every school in the country that wants solar to get it. But to get going, we need your help. To raise money and make sure that other people are as excited about solar schools as we are, we’re starting by crowdfunding our pilot project.


Even as an increasing number of schools nationwide adopt solar, too many schools and communities sit on the sidelines without any idea how to get in the game. The solar development process can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? Who do you ask for help?

That’s why we developed Solar Schools. We’re building an online platform that breaks down the process of getting solar on schools into bite-size, achievable chunks and helps communities connect with the experts and organizations that can support them each step of the way. Solar Schools will provide school communities with the training, tools and expert mentors they need to make clean energy happen. Think of us as a mix of TurboTax—walking people through a cumbersome process—and—bringing together communities and the experts who can support them.

To help ramp up what we hope will soon be a national project, we’re starting next week with a pilot supported by our crowdfunding campaign. The pilot will help bring solar to a handful of schools across the country as we road-test and refine our online platform and tap the excitement that exists for school solar projects.

Like many crowdfunding campaigns, Solar Schools will offer excellent perks to contributors: the opportunity to vote for pilot locations or to nominate your own community; different cool solar gadgets that can give your family first-hand experience with solar; and, if you want to give big, you can even come to our first training.

I hope you share our enthusiasm about Solar Schools and will chip in—and tell all your friends about it, too. Empower our communities and kids with solar today, and who knows where they’ll take us tomorrow.


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Susanne GreeneOct 7 2013 01:55 PM

Great idea- how do we help?

Nathanael GreeneOct 7 2013 02:52 PM

Great question, Mom. For now, share the news and like our Facebook page ( And keep your eyes out for the launch of our crowdfunding campaign next week.

Chad TudenggongbuOct 7 2013 02:58 PM

At, we generate a wealth of solar energy related resources, deliver both in person and web-based outreach events, and provide detailed and actionable information mainly to local governments, but there may be an opportunity for us to collaborate on this. could you please share more details on this?

Nathanael GreeneOct 8 2013 10:12 AM

Chad, looks great and exactly like the type of resources we want to help communities find. Definite opportunities for collaboration. I'll be in touch.

Micah Gold-MarkelOct 8 2013 04:35 PM

In Philadelphia we are up and running. Contact us if you would like to join the Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative (PSSI)

Nathanael GreeneOct 8 2013 05:00 PM

Micah, Sounds like an exciting and innovative options for schools in Phili. Our goal is to help communities organize and do the research and initial evaluation needed figure out if they'd be a good candidate for an offering such as yours and then to help them find partners like you to get their actual system.

Solar ConciergeOct 15 2013 09:54 AM

We are very excited to hear about this initiative! As solar consultants for all sectors based in the Southeast, we have found that schools are the best way to educate the entire community on the benefits of solar. Similar to Chad, I am curious for more information/ potential collaboration. Particularly, the strategy to include states like Georgia that do not currently enjoy the same ease of implementing solar as other regions of the country. Please do reach out! Congrats!

Nathanael GreeneOct 15 2013 02:34 PM

Thanks for the comment, Solar Concierge. Glad you also agree on the importance of solar schools. We launched our crowdfunding site this morning. Check it out. Definitely watch the video. We're being quiet about it while we build our momentum and will be making a big publicity push later this week. After that, let's catch up. I'm sure you'd have a lot of lessons for us.

Gregory SmithOct 16 2013 05:25 AM

I have been working on a not for profit group in Oklahoma called OFFER SUN. The intent is to provide information and local resources to schools and businesses to find responsible and active businesses that can explain, and help school districts choose the best cost effective plan for their district schools. Solar, KED lights, and Solar Thermal units all can act to reduce costs to schools so dramatically, they save literally millions. One school district in Texas spends $25 million a year in energy costs. Solar can gut that cost and reduce it to less than $4 million, a savings of $21 million a year. Now multiply that by 10 and you can see the dramatic cost savings and Revenue producing, a school district can achieve. Invite me as an expert on solar development and distributive energy resourcing. I am a trained installer.

Nathanael GreeneOct 16 2013 09:20 AM

I love stories like yours, Gregory. Thanks. I hope you'll share the link to our campaign. ​Check it out.​ ​We want to create more stories like yours and connect the dots to make a movement. With your help, I know we can do it.

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