Amy Vaughn is a fellow in the 2019 Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program. As part of the LEAF Fellowship, Amy worked with NC GreenPower over the summer of 2019. Amy is a senior at UNC majoring in Environmental Science and Economics with a minor in Information Science. She currently works at the EFC as a Research Assistant.
As the renewable energy sector continues to grow rapidly in North Carolina, it is important that the next generation understands how to use these resources and the data that energy creates. This is achieved most effectively with hands on learning experience at a young age. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for K-12 schools to adapt their curriculum and train teachers, let alone invest in educational materials like solar panels.
Recognizing this barrier, NC GreenPower introduced their Solar Schools program in an effort to support community solar photovoltaic (PV) projects and expand renewable energy education in North Carolina. This program is open to every K-12 school in North Carolina and provides matching grants from NC GreenPower and the potential for an additional grant from the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Foundation for public schools. The remaining balance of the system, typically 30-40% of the total cost, is fundraised by the school and its broader community. Grant recipients receive up to a 5 kilowatt (kW) solar installation along with a weather station, real-time monitoring equipment, STEM curriculum and teacher training needed to implement renewable energy education into existing class curricula. Continue reading
On February 8, 2019, over sixty leaders and stakeholders from around North Carolina and the Triangle assembled to work towards facilitating a partnership for green schools in Wake County at the Green Schools Symposium. This event, hosted by the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) and funded by the Conservation Fund, saw representation from the public and private sectors, government agencies, and non-profits. Represented parties included but were not limited to:
- The City of Raleigh
- WakeUP Wake County
- NC Conservation Network
- North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
- Wake County Government
- NC GreenPower
- American Rivers
- Wake County Public School System (WCPSS)
In fact, the green schools conversation has been happening for many years in Wake County—and many of the innovators behind existing green school work in the area took time to attend the symposium. The day was intended to bring together representatives from parallel green school efforts occurring across the county, and to have one conversation that could include many voices. Although the EFC did its best to reach as many of those individuals as possible, in the end, there were more registrants than the space and food could accommodate! The day included many meaningful connections, sparked enthusiasm and innovative ideas, and continued a conversation that will hopefully be continuing over the next few months to put in place some of the clear cut goals and outcomes discussed below… Continue reading
Elizabeth Roknich is a fellow in the 2018 Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program. She spent summer 2018 at NC GreenPower, a Raleigh-based renewable energy nonprofit. Her work there included financial modeling, cost benefit analyses for program changes, and data visualization work in Tableau, which she used to create two dashboards to highlight their renewable energy generators and their Solar Schools program
Data visualization is a term you might have heard buzzing around lately, gaining popularity and attention across many fields. The idea behind visual representation is not new; people have been explaining data pictorially for centuries, from maps to graphs and on from there. Because of the way the human brain processes information, we are naturally able to understand data in visual formats more easily and quickly than in spreadsheets or reports.
What has really made data visualization boom, however, is the current capacity that computers have to process data at lightning speeds, and the sheer amount of data being collected at any given moment. Continue reading