Solar panels help fuel and educate VB school

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Learning comes in all forms, but when you look at some Virginia Beach schools, it’s what you can’t see that is providing the most education.

School is in session at Ocean Lakes Elementary and you can just feel the energy.

“It’s just pretty amazing,” said Ocean Lakes Elementary Principal Dr. Linda Reese.

You can see it too, but only from a different perspective.

“I wish I could bring the kids up here instead of just showing them pictures so they could actually see,” Reese added.

The roof has gone through a renewable transformation.

“There are a lot,” Reese said. “It covers everything. Even the gym roof is covered with panels as well.”

There are 1,030 solar panels, to be exact. It’s new life for an old building and a first for all the 86 Virginia Beach schools.

“We are a zero-energy school and that’s pretty amazing for a building that’s 32 years old,” Reese added.

“The panels on this building will produce about 110% of the energy that this building uses,” said Virginia Beach Schools Sustainability Officer Tim Cole. “That means you don’t have a utility bill at the end of the month.”

The district shells out about $15 million a year for power. Any savings helps.

“It’s a big first step for us and how … we get a better handle on emissions, carbon-based emissions and moving into more renewable energy,” Cole added. “This is a first big step. We have been talking about it for a long time.”

Solar panels will soon be added to other schools meaning the energy will sustainable and so will the education.

“It really is an amazing thing to know that all of this unused space before now is being used for something really good,” Reese said.

Renaissance Academy is another school that is using solar. It has 2,000 panels on its roof and soon should be the second net-zero school in Virginia Beach.

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