BASICS

Who is Solar Schools Canada – Les Écoles Solaires du Canada?

 Solar Schools Canada - Les Écoles Solaires du Canada (SSC) a not for profit corporation established under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act managed by a voluntary board of directors. We are fully insured. We strive to operate with the maximum level of corporate, financial and operational accountability and transparency.


What does Solar Schools Canada do?

We assist public schools to develop and fund their very own solar (photovoltaic) panel systems through providing program expertise and collaborative fundraising capacity. In doing so, we empower those schools to generate their own renewable electricity and realize the resulting environmental, economic and educational benefits.


How do solar schools programs work?

Different models exist for implementing solar schools programs.

We are implementing a solar schools program on a pilot project basis in select public schools across Nova Scotia by employing a non-profit fundraising approach designed to subsidize the capital costs of solar panels.

The five steps noted below summarize our non-profit approach to fundraising solar schools programs:

1.     Project development phase. Solar Schools Canada raises the majority of funding to cover the solar panels’ capital costs by appealing to business, government and community members and transfers or directs funds to participating schools.

2.     Installation phase. Participating schools use funds to purchase solar panels.

3.     Operations phase. Participating schools use solar panels to generate electricity for direct consumption or to sell into the grid, producing a net transfer in funds from the electrical utility to participating schools over the system’s 25-year lifecycle.

4.     Reinvestment phase. Participating schools can re-invest cost savings/ revenue in students, teachers and educational resources.

5.     Education phase. Participating schools can employ the solar panels as a learning tool to enhance education in STEAM and environment-related subject matter. Students apply that education to benefit their communities at the local, regional, national and global level.


What benefits do solar schools programs create?

Solar schools programs create environmental, economic and educational benefits.

Environmental Benefits. Solar panels enable schools to reduce consumption of comparatively emissions intensive electricity, replacing it with clean, renewable energy, and preventing emissions of significant volumes of green house gases.

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Economic Benefits. Schools can use solar panels to generate more of their electricity independently, reducing operating costs, re-investing savings in students, teachers and schools.

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Educational Benefits. Teachers can use the solar panels to instruct students in science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics (STEAM), energy & environment related subject matter.


Have solar schools programs been successful in other places? 

Thousands of schools in countries around the world, including the U.S., U.K., and Canada, have embraced solar schools programs to realize the unique combination of environmental, economic and educational benefits which solar schools programs create.


What projects has Solar Schools Canada successfully completed?

Solar Schools Canada emerged from the success of a solar schools pilot project at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Project was launched in 2015 as a collaboration between the Environmental Law Students’ Society (ELSS) at the Schulich School of Law and Dalhousie’s Office of Sustainability.

In less than one year, the ELSS and Dalhousie’s Office of Sustainability had mobilized the funds necessary to cover the solar PV systems capital costs through appealing to businesses and individuals.

In August 2017, contractors installed the 3.44 kW system on the roof of the Schulich School of Law.

Over its estimated 25-year lifecycle, the system will:

  • generate approximately 4,000 kWh of clean energy annually and 100,000 kWh of clean energy over its lifecycle;

  • prevent emissions of approximately 1,500 kilograms of CO2 annually and 40,000 kilograms of CO2 over its lifecycle;

  • reduce university operating costs by over $400.00 annually and $8,000.00 over its lifecycle; and,

  • set an example that other organizations can follow in developing community based renewable energy projects in Nova Scotia and in Canada.


FINANCIAL

HOW MUCH DO SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS COST?

The primary costs of implementing a solar schools program are the costs of purchasing and installing the solar panels. Costs will vary depending on the size of the solar panel installation, as well as site-specific factors, including (a) racking technology, (b) the necessity of building and electrical upgrades, (c) the necessity or extent of supplementary engineering design and consulting services, among others.

The capital costs of a 15 kilowatt capacity solar panel installation are estimated to be approximately $75,000.00.

The capital costs of a 50 kilowatt capacity solar panel installation are estimated to be approximately $183,000.00.


WHO PAYS FOR SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS?

Individuals, organizations, businesses and government pay for solar schools programs, specifically, the initial capital costs of school-based solar panels, through voluntary contributions to Solar Schools Canada or participating schools.

Participating schools pay the ongoing maintenance and operations expenses associated with the solar panels out of the cost savings generated by the panels.


DO SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS COMPETE WITH OTHER TYPES OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING FOR PUBLIC FUNDING?

No. Private contributors provide the majority of funding for solar schools programs. Therefore, solar schools programs do not compete with other types of educational programming for public funding.

Rather, because solar schools programs assist public schools to reduce operating costs, they can allow participating schools to devote less financial resources to operations and more financial resources to educational programming.


OPERATIONAL

ARE ALL SCHOOLS SUITABLE FOR SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS?

No. The ability of a particular school to accommodate a solar panel installation depends on a number of factors, including: (a) school property size and topography, (b) school age, (c) school structural configuration, (d) sunlight exposure, (e) energy needs, and (f) projected local development trends.

Before implementing a solar schools program at a particular school, Solar Schools Canada collaborates with participating schools and qualified renewable energy contractors to complete a feasibility assessment confirming that the school is able to accommodate a solar panel installation over the installation’s 25-year lifecycle in light of current and future characteristics of the school and its surrounding environment.


WHO INSTALLS AND MAINTAINS THE SOLAR PANELS?

Qualified renewable energy contractors install and maintain the solar panels. After Solar Schools Canada and a participating school secure the funds required to purchase a solar panel installation, the participating school will prepare and release an RFP inviting qualified renewable energy contractors to bid to install the solar panel installation identified by the feasibility assessment as producing the most economic, environmental and educational value.

The participating school will administer the contract selection process and select the contractor to install and maintain the solar panels.

In preparing and releasing the RFP, participating schools are responsible for complying with all public procurement legislation, regulations, and policies that applicable within their jurisdiction.


EDUCATIONAL

HOW DO SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS COMPLEMENT LESSONS AND TEACHING?

Solar schools programs can complement lessons and teaching in a variety of ways, such as:

1.  Teachers may use solar PV systems to enhance education in STEAM and other subjects: Teachers may employ solar PV systems as a learning tool to instruct students in STEAM and environmental subject matter.

2.  Schools may engage student participation in implementing solar schools programs to develop student leadership skills: Engaging students in planning, promoting and implementing solar schools programs offers students opportunities to develop skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, teamwork, interpersonal communications and individual resiliency.

3.  Schools may engage student participation in implementing solar schools programs to cultivate and deepen attitudes of social and environmental responsibility and empowerment: Engaging students in implementing solar schools programs offers students opportunities to cultivate and deepen attitudes of social and environmental responsibility, engagement and empowerment, positioning students to participate in their communities as active citizens with the knowledge, perspective and skills necessary to develop solutions to contemporary challenges.


SUPPORT

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SUPPORT SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS?

Anyone can support our solar schools program, whether you are an individual, organization, business or government.


HOW CAN I HELP?

The simplest way to support our solar schools program is through making a financial donation. Every dollar will go towards assisting public schools to develop and install solar panel installations, saving money, preventing emissions, and enhancing education. You may donate to Solar Schools Canada directly or to participating schools.


DONATING TO SSC

Solar Schools Canada accepts donations by cheque, cash, e-transfer, or online through our website.

Once funding is secured to cover the estimated capital costs of the solar panel installation, Solar Schools Canada transfers a minimum of ninety percent (90%) of all financial contributions directly to participating schools.

To ensure the financial sustainability of our organization and our continued ability to advance our mission, Solar Schools Canada may retain a maximum of ten percent (10%) of financial contributions to cover our operational costs, which include insurance, website maintenance and hosting, banking and other professional services fees.

Donations directly to Solar Schools Canada are subject to the following terms and conditions.


DONATING TO PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS

Participating schools may accept financial donations directly from donors. If you are interested in this donation option, please contact us at hello@ssc-esc.ca and we will provide you with the appropriate contact information and instructions to donate directly to your chosen, participating school.


IS MY DONATION ELIGIBLE FOR A CHARITABLE TAX RECEIPT?

The eligibility of a donation for a charitable tax receipt for income depends on whether you give to Solar Schools Canada or directly to participating schools.

Donations to Solar Schools Canada

Solar Schools Canada is a non-profit organization within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada) and is not a registered charity. As such, Solar Schools Canada cannot issue charitable tax receipts for income tax purposes.

Donations to Participating Schools

Many participating schools, or the provincial school board that they are a part of, are registered charities. As such, they may issue charitable donation receipts for the eligible gifts. To determine whether a participating school or school board is a registered charity, please consult the CRA Charities Directorate List of Charities.


HOW WILL SUPPORTING A SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAM ASSIST MY BUSINESS?

Contributing to our Solar Schools program will confirm your business’ credentials as one which is environmental and socially responsible, and will position your business to realize significant benefits, including:

  • Recognition & Promotion: Benefit from the range of recognition and promotion options available to contributors.

  • CSR: Complement your business’ social responsibility program by supporting a program creating educational, economic and environmental benefits locally.

  • Goodwill: Increase goodwill among your business’ customers, employees, investors and the community partners, thereby increasing business performance.

  • Competitive Advantage: Demonstrate your business’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability, differentiating your business from its competitors.

  • Build relationships: Build new relationships and strengthen existing ones by collaborating with the network of businesses supporting the solar schools pilot program.