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Building a Brighter Future: How Solar is Empowering Schools and Cities Across the Nation

Michael Mahal, Senior Program Manager, Generate Capital
Rory Eblen, Project Manager, New York City Department of Education (DOE)
Geovani Caldero, K-12 Environmental Educator & Workforce Instructor, Solar One
Tish Tablan, Program Director, Generation 180
Roy Rodriguez, a recent high school graduate and participant in Solar One’s solar education program
Christian Bitters, Managing Director, Edison Energy
Event by: Edison Energy
1 hour

12:00 PM - 01:00 PM EST
Virtual Event (Webinar)

United States

Building a Brighter Future: How Solar is Empowering Schools and Cities Across the Nation

Edison Energy is excited to submit its Q3 Impact Roundtable as an official Climate Week NYC event: Building a Brighter Future: How Solar is Empowering Schools and Cities Across the Nation.

This virtual event will take place on Thursday, September 15, 12:00-1:00 pm ET. Edison Energy (DBA as Altenex Energy in Europe) is a global energy advisory firm that helps large corporate, industrial, and institutional clients better navigate the choices, opportunities, and risks that will emerge from the transition to a net-zero future. We enable organizations to deliver on their strategic, financial, and sustainability goals by addressing today’s key energy challenges: carbon, cost, complexity, and creating energy equity across communities.

As part of our commitment to breaking down barriers to energy access, Edison hosts an Impact RoundTable Series, with the goal of elevating and highlighting topics around Environmental and Social Justice (ESJ). The quarterly series seeks to foster awareness, equity, and inclusivity; drive meaningful community impact; and create a collaborative space for inclusive dialogue, the sharing of ideas, and education and engagement. To help drive this initiative, Edison will be holding its Q3 Impact Roundtable around the “solar on schools” movement. Schools are poised to play a leadership role in the clean energy transition, inspiring students, staff, school districts, and communities to flip the switch to a healthier, more resilient future.

The benefits of going solar are catching on in school districts from New York to California as a way to reduce energy costs, lower carbon emissions, and empower healthy communities by providing students and teachers with hands-on learning, job training, and curriculum development. With New York City aiming to produce 100 MW of solar energy per year by 2025, Edison is proud to serve as an advisor and partner with Generate Capital, the City’s Department of Education (NYC DOE), the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (NYC DCAS), and Solar One in an ongoing initiative to install solar panels on schools across New York City’s five boroughs.

To date, the City has installed solar panels on approximately 110 buildings, including 60 schools, producing 16 MW of energy a year — enough to power 2,600 homes. New York City now receives a collective 75% of its solar energy from installations on public school facilities.

With the launch of this solar initiative, New York City’s Education Department began expanding its efforts to incorporate curricula around climate change and renewable energy, partnering with nonprofit Solar One to offer professional development for teachers and launching a solar energy vocational track that now operates in 14 schools. To date, 1,350 teachers and 3,200 students have taken advantage of the solar education offerings. Using New York City as a model, our expert panel will explore rooftop solar programs at the local and national levels, the “ins and outs” of launching initiatives around solar on schools, best practices, and lessons learned.

Our objective is to inspire event attendees by sharing success stories and the impact that solar schools are making in classrooms, communities, and cities across the nation. Moderating our panel will be Christian Bitters, Managing Director of Edison’s Energy Optimization team, who leads the development, implementation, and commissioning of energy efficiency, distributed energy resources, and renewable projects across the country.

The discussion will be kicked off with a “Community Spotlight” from Stephen Ritz, lifelong educator and founder of nonprofit Green Bronx Machine, which aims to build healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development.

Our panelists include: Michael Mahal, Senior Program Manager, Generate Capital, who brings to the discussion a unique, project-focused perspective on the development and deployment of solar on schools, along with notable metrics and impacts. Rory Eblen, Project Manager, New York City Department of Education (DOE), will share his expertise on the City’s solar on schools initiative, the “ins and outs” of solar panel installations, and associated solar education programs. Geovani Caldero, K-12 Environmental Educator & Workforce Instructor, Solar One, will share his experiences working with students and teachers, as well as insights and success stories around the solar on schools education program. Tish Tablan, Program Director, Generation 180, will provide a nationwide perspective on solar programs in school districts across the country, as well as share newly released, real-time data from the organization’s Brighter Future Report. Roy Rodriguez, a recent high school graduate and participant in Solar One’s solar education program, will discuss insights on the training he received, as well as how the program helped shape his education and career trajectory.

The conversation will zoom in on solar-on-schools project design and development--from conception through completion--including challenges, benefits, and community impacts. Our panelists will expound on NYC’s Solar Schools Education Program, which trains teachers on how to deliver self-guided, inquiry-based learning that builds STEM, engineering, and problem-solving skills in alignment with established standards. Panelists will also explore the initiative’s hands-on technical training for students, internships with solar companies that are installing solar on public schools, and stories around students reaping the educational and financial benefits of the program while having an opportunity to play a role in New York City’s clean energy transition.

The nationwide lens will focus on school districts across the country that have initiated and completed solar projects, and that have incorporated solar education and workforce training into their curricula. With energy typically being the second largest expense for schools after staffing, our experts will explore how going solar can help cash-strapped school districts redirect funds used to pay utility bills towards the core mission of student learning and environmental sustainability.