SunCommon maxes out rooftop solar array size on Vermont school

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SunCommon, an iSun company, has announced that the Winooski Schools have completed the maximum allowable solar system for net metering in Vermont by installing a mega system on the roof. The new 750 kW range will cover approximately $115,000 annually of the school’s energy costs. SunCommon was involved in the installation of the solar PV array in collaboration with architectural firm TruexCullins and ReArch Company, a construction management group.

“Solar is cost competitive with almost all fuel sources. It was a no-brainer for us,” said Cam Featherstonhaugh, AIA, CSI, associate at TruexCullins. “We are moving towards an all-electric future and this building is a step towards that future.”

The renovation and expansion project includes new additions to the high school and elementary school. The facility serves approximately 880 students in pre-K through grade 12, and has one of the most diverse student populations in Vermont.

“Environmental stewardship is a clear priority for Winooski students as they learn how their actions can make a difference. Recently, elementary school students have written essays for lawmakers calling for tougher measures to reduce pollution, high school students have been educating about food waste in school, and high school students have partnered with a local farm to learn about sustainable farming practices. Our students are proud that their school building reflects their commitment to an eco-friendly future,” said Emily Hecker, WSD communications director.

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The project set ambitious sustainability goals from the start and includes environmental features such as geothermal heating and cooling and 90% efficient ventilation with energy recovery, in addition to the 1,874 modules that make up the 750 kW solar panel on the roof. Together, this means significant utility cost savings for the school and a sustainable building that will serve the community for decades to come.

Community building was another important element of the project. SunCommon offered a professional development program for members of the new American community to learn more about the solar industry. ReArch Company offered two high school scholarships in the amount of $5,000 for STEM and trade school related programs, as well as a third and fourth grade science program focused on sustainability and renewable energy concepts.

“Part of our job is to inspire the next generation, get them thinking about renewable energy from the perspective of their world and environment,” said Danylo O’Hara Whalen, assistant project manager at ReArch and a resident of Winooski . “Students learned about energy consumption in the building’s systems with their own project. One of my favorites was from a student who developed a solar-powered pushcart to store classroom technology and act as a mobile charging unit.”

Winooski has engaged in work that all three partners hope to see continue across the state.

“In Vermont, there are 20 million square feet of school buildings and this represents only 1% of the building stock in the state,” said James Moore, iSun and SunCommon president. “Our infrastructure must be forward-thinking to meet Vermont’s clean energy goals, and leveraging our built environment — schools, municipal buildings, parking lots — is a great place to start.”

This project was funded by SunWealth, a values ​​investor in clean energy projects. SunCommon partners with SunWealth on several projects for schools, municipalities, and non-profit organizations.

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