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Energy Commissioner Celebrates Zero-Net-Energy Pilot Project

A ZNE building consumes as much energy as it produces annually

California Energy Commission

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister joined school officials and other energy experts to mark the start of the transformation of the Vista Grande Elementary School's main building into a zero-net-energy (ZNE) site using Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) K-12 Program funds.

A ZNE building consumes as much energy as it produces annually.

The San Diego Unified School District will install light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, a solar photovoltaic system, and a brand new water chiller. It also will upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems at the school. The upgrades to Vista Grande Elementary's main building are expected to save the district nearly $90,000 every year, according to school officials.

"Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades makes school buildings more comfortable and creates a better learning environment," Commissioner Andrew McAllister said at a July 5 event.

The district has applied to the Energy Commission for nearly $25 million in Proposition 39 funding to upgrade 77 schools, including five solar photovoltaic projects.

The Proposition 39 K-12 Program, which the Energy Commission administers, helps schools improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation throughout the state.

San Diego Unified Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser said he was thrilled that the district is pursuing a two-pronged approach to reach its sustainability goals.

"We are reducing energy usage throughout the district while increasing the amount of clean energy we generate. This strategy reduces our carbon footprint, creates local green jobs, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars," Beiser said.