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Environmental Group Launches Unique Solar Power Initiative

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

The Natural Resources Defense Council is bringing solar power to schools through a unique initiative—crowdfunding.

The environmental action group, which partners with businesses and community groups to address current environmental issues, is blending education, energy, and environmentalism with its new campaign, which seeks to raise $54,000 through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to fund its pilot project. The money will go toward helping three to five schools install rooftop solar panels. While the schools have yet to be selected, at least one will be chosen through online nominations and votes made by campaign contributors.

Launched on October 21, the campaign is almost halfway to its fundraising goal. Right now, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, N.C., have attracted the most online support. 

The ultimate goal of the "Solar Schools: Powering Classrooms, Empowering Communities" campaign is to help enable every school in the country that wants solar power to get it. To do this, the NRDC is partnering with multiple other organizations, including The Solar Foundation, the Community Power Network, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

In conjunction with the campaign, the organization will develop and launch an online platform intended to help schools through the process of obtaining solar power. It will provide state and local rules pertaining to the energy source and will help connect schools and communities to organizations or experts that can provide support to the schools as they undergo this transformation. Contributions can be made until Nov. 14.

"We're building an online platform that breaks down the process of getting solar on schools into bite-size, achievable chunks," wrote Nathanael Greene, director of NRDC's work on renewable energy, in a blog post about the initiative.

Benefits associated with solar power extend beyond the environmental. According to the press release, one California school that recently made the switch to solar saved an estimated $900,000 in energy costs.

This is just the latest initiative in a trend focusing on cultivating "green schools." Earlier this year, Washington's National Building Museum displayed designs of environmentally sustainable school buildings. Around the same time, New York City-based McGraw-Hill Construction released a report that focused on the financial, health, and academic benefits of green schools.

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