Student Case Study

In the spring of 2008, Julia Mason, a student at Monte Vista High School in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD), came up with the idea of installing solar panels on her high school. Two years later, in May 2010, the SRVUSD school board unanimously approved an even more encompassing plan: a 3.3 Megawatt (MW), $23 million project to install solar panels on six campuses in the district.

>> Read Julia's case study learn how this project became a reality.

Julia learned a lot over the two years she worked to make solar energy a reality at her school. Here are three of her tips for success:

1. Don't get discouraged. At first the district was very hesitant about taking on a solar project during tough fiscal times. Even though it was frustrating, Julia kept emailing the district and communicating with them until things finally started moving forward. She learned that you have to be patient and persistent, and that sometimes you need to take baby steps. Make a small victory a big thing to celebrate.

2. Find the angle that resonates. HELiOS helped Julia identify a funding approach for the solar project that would make it cash positive for the district. When the district heard this, they finally took the idea seriously. Julia learned that in the economic and political climate faced by the district, the environmental angle didn't work. The money-saving angle resonated with district officials much more strongly.

3. Identify an ally. Julia probably would not have continued working on this project for two years without the support of HELiOS. Tom, her contact at HELiOS, helped her to stay focused even when it looked like there was no way to go forward. He acted as a mentor to Julia, guiding her through the process and helping her identify solutions to overcoming roadblocks.

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Green Ribbon Schools
Dept of Education 

The U.S. Department of Education announced in April 2011 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program to recognize schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy. Click here to learn more!