SunCommon maxes out rooftop solar array size on Vermont school

SunCommon

SunCommon, an iSun company, announced that the Winooski Schools have completed the maximum net-metering solar system allowable in Vermont by installing a mega system on its roof. The new 750-kW array will cover roughly $115,000 of the school’s energy costs annually. SunCommon engaged in the installation of the solar PV array in partnership with architecture firm TruexCullins and ReArch Company, a construction management group.

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

The renovation and expansion project includes new middle school and elementary school additions. 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 students have written essays to lawmakers advocating for stronger measures to reduce pollution, middle school students raised awareness about food waste at school, and high school students partnered with a local farm to learn about sustainable agricultural practices. Our students are proud that their school building reflects their commitment to an Earth-friendly future,” said Emily Hecker, the WSD communications director.

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

Community building was another key element of the project. SunCommon offered a professional development program for New American community members to learn about the solar energy 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 that focused on sustainability and renewable energy concepts.

“Part of our work is to inspire the next generation, to 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 Winooski resident. “Students learned about energy use 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 one represents only 1% of the building stock in the state,” said James Moore, iSun and SunCommon president. “Our infrastructure needs to be future-forward in 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 financed by SunWealth, a values ​​investor in clean energy projects. SunCommon has partnered with SunWealth on several projects for schools, municipalities and non-profits.

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