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City, Parents Bring Green To Local School’s Rooftop

File Photo

Parents want to see more education attached to the new solar technology recently installed atop Eureka Valley’s Alvarado Elementary School.

By Maya Lekach

Years of hard work and dedication have finally reached their culmination as Alvarado School’s rooftop solar panels are officially up and running.

Although the Eureka Valley elementary and Spanish immersion school has been the Number 1 Composter in the school district for the past three years, they are now finally taking their first steps towards renewable energy for the school, the district, and the city at large.

The idea of the rooftop solar panels began years ago when a group of PTA members, calling themselves the Go Green Committee, noticed the flatness of the school’s roof, lending itself to a particular capability for hosting effective, energy-saving panels.

But what started as just a great idea turned into much more. Some active parents with governmental connections worked their way into a meeting with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Luckily for the school, this came around at just the right time, as the PUC was looking for outlets for its clean energy project. This initiative, funded by the city, sets aside funds for public projects, especially projects of the PUC, that will encourage greening and sustainability.

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said he was more than happy to sign off on a development that would promote clean energy and environmental learning in San Francisco. When the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously it was clear that it was by all means a great fit. The solar panel installation would not only save money for the school district and the school itself, but it would also be a great learning project for the students, all while doing great PR for the PUC.

After a bit of a waiting game, one year ago the time finally came for final plans to be put in place to install the solar panels and begin the project. The installation was completed over the summer so as not to interrupt the students’ learning. The project was completed in time and the school has been able to begin incorporating their new addition into their school day and their school curriculum.

On top of Alvarado’s previously existing Go Green efforts, such as sustainable gardening and the aforementioned, highly successful composting program, parents and faculty alike want to make sure that the school and the government don’t stop at simple installation. Some parents, like Go Green Committee spokesperson Victor Lubet, are adamant on the city’s need to not only help increase the municipal solar capacity, but also to increase their educational capacity. “It is in this way,” he said, “that we can really use this to invest in our future and our kids’ futures.”

This investment from the PUC is not just for Alvarado School, and will likely expand to other schools district-wide in the coming months, with a planned project at Lincoln High School already in the works.

This city-sponsored greening is proof that with some effort and elbow grease, San Francisco is ready to help and support the Go Green efforts of schools and individuals. However, it is only with the help of parents and citizens that the solar panels can go the the distance to become a truly educational endeavor for the city’s youth.

Lubet believes the efforts of the city and the PUC to be only “green cleaning,” or image bolstering. It is only through the efforts of the parents, in conjunction with the district, that the learning can really begin.

We need to make this a joint effort,” he said. “We need parents coming in teaching the children what is going on with the panels, how to read them, how to understand them.”

Working together with the city of San Francisco the parents of the Castro neighborhood can continue to lead by example in energy-saving efforts and sustainability education, he said.