When I was in elementary school, every time I would travel on Leesburg Pike, construction crews working on the roof of Marshall High School always caught my eye.
Particularly, large and distinct improvements and expansionsto the library fascinated me.
The library renovation was one aspect, and the most noticeable one, of a 70 million dollar refurbishment. Construction crews renovated the library, the auditorium, the gym and the locker rooms. They also installed a rooftop garden. But, they ignored solar panels and energy efficiency.
Whenever I visited Marshall High School – whether it be to attend a basketball or football game – I always thought by the time I was in ninth grade, I would be a student in a state of the art, 21st-century building. I was clearly mistaken.
Ryan McElveen’s Twitter announcement that Marshall would be one out of 10 FCPS facilities to potentially gain for a green energy solar panel contract prompted me to consider why the 70 million dollar renovations, concluded in 2015, did not include solar panels.
FCPS, in consultation with the Fairfax County government, announced they had reached a solar power purchase agreement to bring roof mounted solar panels at a possible 87 schools.
One of those schools is Marshall. This contract is the largest ever by any municipality in Virginia.
Solar panels are not only a sustainable source for pollution-free energy, but they are also cost-effective.
Within the last year, Marshall has spent 259,000 dollars on electricity, according to the FCPS energy data dashboard, or about 127 dollars per student per year.
In comparison, Carson Middle School, one of five schools from the county with solar panels, spent 99 dollars per student per year, 22 percent less.
Those opposed to the installation of solar panels argue the up-front cost solar panels require is too overwhelming for any building, especially a school, to be able to afford.
But that is the same argument those who opposed building the Panama Canal and the Tennessee Valley invoked. We cannot let this defeatist outlook stand in the way of our school’s progress.
There are always those who are opposed to trying something new, and they will find whatever excuse they can make to maintain the status quo.
But high energy costs are a long-term problem, which compels a long-term solution. Solar panels are that future resolution Marshall needs.