When students returned to the Learning Village last month, there were noticeable and exciting changes to the buildings that had occurred over the summer. In their absence, the School had installed a solar energy system aiming to produce 20% of the Belfield Campus' energy. Contributed by an anonymous donor, the solar arrays add to the School's efforts to continually create world-class facilities for its students, reduce its carbon footprint, and create an innovative learning environment in which a program will be implemented to educate the students on solar energy and its impact.
"Similar to when we built (the Learning Village) building and we made the choice to go for LEED certification, that was all because of the kids. We want to make sure, through science and math classes, that the students learn how the system is working," said Head of School David Lourie in a recent interview with Sun Tribe Solar, the Charlottesville-based commercial solar company with which the School collaborated.
"Also, if we talk to our students about environmental awareness, sustainability, impact on community, they know whether we're doing it or not. We want our students to know that we are walking the walk and doing what we can for the environment."
St. Anne's-Belfield School eighth grade student Hunter Oakey is one of many students who has noticed the solar arrays since returning to school.
"I am happy to attend a school that manages to integrate solar panels into the community," he said "I am also amazed by the amount of energy our School can acquire using solar panels that only cover the roof."
Oakey's classmate Brehanu Bugg noted, "the benefits of solar energy are that it saves money and it's environmentally friendly. Especially in the summer and spring, where the sun is just burning all day, we'd be saving so much money that we could be using for other fun things!"
More than 1,000 solar panels were installed on three different buildings at the Learning Village, which will offset the School's carbon footprint by more than 10,000 tons.
"We are always excited to partner with schools, because we know that solar installations will pique the students' interests, leading them to want to know more about renewable energy," said Rich Allevi, co-founder at Sun Tribe Solar.
"And St. Anne's-Belfield is jumping right in, creating a program to explain how solar technology works and how it positively impacts the environment. It is great to see the enthusiasm of the School staff, the students, and the families of the students, and we are extremely proud to have partnered with St. Anne's-Belfield on this project. "
The solar system at the Learning Village will be celebrated as part of St. Anne's-Belfield's Fall Family Picnic in October.