Energy Commissioner Celebrates Zero Net Energy Pilot Project at San Diego School

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister joined school officials and other energy experts to mark the start of the transformation of the Vista Grande Elementary School’s main building into a zero net energy (ZNE) site using Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) K-12 Program funds. A building is considered to be ZNE when it consumes as much energy as it produces annually.

The San Diego Unified School District will install light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, a solar photovoltaic system, a brand new water chiller, and will upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at the school. The upgrades to Vista Grande Elementary’s main building are expected to save the district nearly $90,000 every year, according to school officials, who organized a July 5 event for the project.

“Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades makes school buildings more comfortable and creates a better learning environment,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission’s lead on energy efficiency. “San Diego Unified School District - California's second-largest - has created a comprehensive energy plan to improve each campus and take advantage of its millions of dollars of Proposition 39 grants. In the long run, this will save the district money that can be invested in student programs while helping the state reach its ambitious environmental and energy goals.”
The district has applied to the Energy Commission for nearly $25 million in Proposition 39 funding to upgrade 77 schools, including five solar photovoltaic projects.

The Proposition 39 K-12 Program, which the Energy Commission administers, helps schools improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation throughout the state. It is a voter-approved initiative that adjusted the corporate income tax code and allocated revenues to school districts for energy improvements to facilities.

San Diego Unified Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser said he was thrilled that the district is pursuing a two-pronged approach to reach its sustainability goals.

“We are reducing energy usage throughout the district while increasing the amount of clean energy we generate. This strategy reduces our carbon footprint, creates local green jobs, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars,” Beiser said.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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