Pittsburg Unified School District Holds Groundbreaking of Solar-Wind Generation Farm

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Photo provided by Pittsburg Unified School District

Pittsburg Unified School District Hosted a Sustainability Showcase and Groundbreaking of Solar-Wind Generation Farm

Pittsburg, CA – In celebration of Earth Day, Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) showcased its sustainability practices, green projects, and the groundbreaking of a new solar/wind generation farm.

PUSD displayed two newly-purchased all-electric school busses, its new propane powered bus fleet, electric charging stations, school garden program, student projects, and was joined by community partners who support the District’s sustainability practices.

“Pittsburg Unified School District is leading the way with green practices among education institutions in the Bay Area,” said Enrique Palacios, Deputy Superintendent. “We are doing things many school districts have never done before. This event is a testament of the hard work, dedication, and desire among our staff and departments to make sustainable choices.”

During the Earth Day festivities, PUSD broke ground on the District’s first Solar/Wind Generation Farm. The one-acre bio swale site will have beta solar panels and four wind generation units.

“One of PUSD’s Board Policies is Energy and Waste Management (Board Policy 3511), and I’m so incredibly proud of how our staff works as a team to find innovative solutions for energy conservation,” said Dr. Janet Schulze, Superintendent, Pittsburg Unified School District. “Exposing our students and families to conservation efforts inside and outside the classroom is an important step in educating our future.”

The Sustainable Showcase was designed to show the Pittsburg community how Pittsburg Unified is leading the way with green practices in transportation, facilities, energy use, child nutrition, maintenance, and operations. Pittsburg is the first school district in the Bay Area to convert an entire school bus fleet to zero and low emissions vehicles. Thanks to Blue Bird and Roush Clean Tech, PUSD was able to purchase a new bus fleet with propane autogas (Neste MY Renewable Diesel) that is economical and allows the District to save money without sacrificing the safety of students. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon fuel produced from 100% renewable and sustainable raw materials. The fuel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% and significantly reduces engine-out emissions, all while enhancing fleet performance.

“Other districts with the same propane buses have reported saving 38 cents per mile – or more than $600,000 annually in total operating costs, when factoring in fuel and maintenance savings. We hope to see the same savings in Pittsburg with our new fleet,” said Matt Belasco, Director of Maintenance, Operations, and Transportation at Pittsburg Unified School District. On average, propane autogas costs 40 to 50 percent less than diesel. Plus, less maintenance is required on propane autogas buses due to the clean-burning properties of the fuel.”

Besides the propane powered buses, the District has also purchased two all-electric buses and three all-electric cars for its white fleet. Prior to switching to more energy efficient buses, the District had not purchased a new bus in more than 18 years. According to the transportation department, bus drivers are thrilled to be driving the new fleet and the vehicles have made a positive impact on morale, which is an added bonus.

PUSD’s Sustainability Programs and Efforts Include:

  • Solar arrays at 15 of the District’s 17 locations. To date, in the last twelve months, we have generated just under 5 GWh of electricity for the District’s use. In total, for the 5 ½ years of having solar, we have generated over 33 GWh of electricity, avoided almost 98 Million lbs. of carbon dioxide, and avoided the emissions of over 10,000 vehicle in the past year!
  • Two new all-electric buses in fleet
  • Three all-electric cars in white fleet
  • 14 buses powered by propane, almost emission-free
  • 24 total EV charging stations district-wide
  • All custodial cleaning products are green certified
  • Idle-free program to discourage idling vehicles at school sites
  • Farm-to-school fresh produce
  • Active gardens at all school K-12 school sites
  • High percentage of recycle to waste ratio
  • Composting food waste at most school sites.
  • Site Support Services Center acquiring new beta solar panels over one acre bio swale and two wind generation units.
  • Recycled water for irrigation at two school sites with third site planned.
  • District awarded Green Ribbon School District with Gold Distinction from California Department of Education
  • Golden Bell Award for District from California School Board Association
  • Board Policy establishing a Green School Operations and Sustainability policy
  • New construction of Parkside Elementary School will make facility a Zero Net Energy School.
  • Waterless urinals at all school sites and district facilities, each saving up to 40,000 gallons of water per year.

About Pittsburg Unified School District:

Awarded the College Board’s Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll award in 2016 for expanding access to college, Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) is one of 130 school districts across the nation recognized for creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students. PUSD is a K-12 district serving the diverse community of Pittsburg, California. Founded in 1933, the school system is committed to providing an excellent opportunity for all students to learn. Comprised of eight elementary schools, three junior high schools, one comprehensive high school, one alternative education high school, an adult school, independent study options, and a preschool program, the school district serves more than 11,500 students. PUSD is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, fifty minutes outside of downtown San Francisco.

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