Our Carbon Footprint

Mount Laurel Schools' Solar Energy Project

June of 2010 marked the first year of our district solar initiative. Thus far, we have installed solar panels on the roof of the Harrington Middle School and in a ground-mount system at the Mount Laurel Hartford School. In the future, we hope to expand the initiative to all eligible schools. Here's an overview of our district solar project as it moves forward.

Top row, workers secure piping to the roof, followed by a system of brackets that will hold solar panels. Once the bracket system is in place (middle row) solar panels are brought in and placed in the brackets. In the bottom row, you can see the panels in their permanent positions. Their positioning has been determined by maximum efficiency to draw energy from the sun.

 The district solar project was approved by the Board of Education in June of 2010 and construction began in October following all of the necessary planning and permits. Harrington's solar system became operational in mid-December. Work began soon after on the placement of supports and panels at the Hartford School. At Hartford, some of the panels were placed on the ground, in addition to those on the roof.

All together, 713 panels have been installed at Harrington and 1,330 panels at Hartford. The combined energy generated between the two buildings in the future is estimated at 470.12 kilowatt hours.

Here are some statistics on the Harrington Project alone that you might find helpful in putting the environmental impact in perspective:

Harrington's system size is 164.22 Kilowatts
Its annual energy production is 185,647 Kilowatt Hours
Tons of Carbon Dioxide Offset: 160 annually
Number of Equivalent Urban Trees: 3,326 annually
Number of Car Driving Miles: 181,428 annually

The solar project offers tremendous opportunity for students to learn first-hand about their environment and the carbon footprint of our schools. A kiosk in each of the schools shows energy levels generated and the kilowatt hours being utilized in real-time.

Additionally, the solar panels are a source of increased revenue for the district. After a month of "online" operation, the district received a check for $42,084, representing the transfer of our first Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECS). A second check received in June totaled $56,989.

For every megawatt-hour of electricity produced by an eligible solar facility, one SREC is awarded. State solar requirements demand that energy suppliers or utilities procure a certain percentage of electricity from qualified solar renewable energy. Transfer of SRECs to these suppliers results in income for the producer.

"In our case," explains Assistant Superintendent for Business/Board Secretary Robert F. Wachter Jr., "This is not a profit yet. We will use the income from the sale of the SRECs to pay-off the cost of our solar project first. But at some point, this will be an income source for our schools at the same time it is greatly reducing our carbon footprint."

Please follow the links to the left to see how our panels and generating energy "in real time".

Ongoing District Initiatives To Conserve Energy

Mount Laurel Schools' efforts to conserve energy are long-standing and have been supported by the entire community. A major referendum approved by voters in 2005 resulted in upgrades to our schools' electrical and heat, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Many of our older windows were replaced through that same initiative with energy-efficient replacement windows.
In 2006, an energy audit led to the installation of motion detectors in classrooms and energy-efficient lighting systems in common areas of our schools. Motion detection allows lights to automatically turn off when the room is unoccupied and return to service once motion is detected in the space.

Control of heating and ventilation systems in our buildings from remote locations initiated in 2007 has greatly reduced costs and resulted in more precise temperature control. Since many of our facilities are occupied well beyond the school day for community activities and events, climate control is crucial 24-hours a day.

Mount Laurel Schools' participation in one of the first bio-diesel grant programs launched in the state reduced the district's carbon footprint significantly in terms of gas emissions for our fleet of school buses. Our recycling efforts in schools and offices across the district have expanded over the past several years, with the volume and nature of recycled goods constantly expanding.