Researchers recently ranked states on their solar school standing. California came out on top—and the competition wasn’t even close. Installed solar capacity in California schools is three times the capacity of the next ranked state, which is New Jersey. Solar canopies make a contribution to that capacity. Blymyer Engineers played a role in pioneering solar canopy design at schools.
Blymyer worked with the California Division of the State Architect (DSA) to create the first pre-check designs for solar canopies at California public schools. The International Building Code included almost nothing about solar canopies at the time. Blymyer developed the pioneering designs when solar engineering was in its earliest stages. The DSA approved the designs in 2008. Pre-check helps projects advance more quickly and efficiently.
“Solar canopies were rare when we started designing them for schools in California,” says Blymyer Director of Engineering Greg Mazur. “Now, you see solar canopies shading cars and generating power in the parking lots of schools all over the state. Having pre-approved designs made it easier for school districts to add solar parking canopies to their schools. For instance, San Jose Unified School District used canopies for solar projects that added up to 7.2 MW across 13 schools.”
Solar schools in a solar state
Generation180, a nonprofit that addresses clean energy, undertook the study of installed solar capacity at schools in the United States. It found that schools in California have an installed solar capacity if 616 MW. New Jersey came in second, with an installed capacity of 182 MW. More than 2 million students attend one of California’s 2,430 solar schools. Blymyer has designed solar projects for about 400 of those schools throughout California.
“Hats off to education leaders in California for making solar a priority in schools,” says Mazur. “The Generation180 study notes that energy is the second largest individual expense for schools after personnel. Solar makes sense from environmental and economic perspectives. The whole Blymyer team is pleased to have helped make California the leader in solar schools.”