Local Elementary Leaps Towards Green Energy, Education with New Solar Gateway

Published : Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | 7:37 PM

Over two hundred people gathered for the grand opening of Walden School’s “Gateway To Walden’s Future,” a new structure that will generate solar power.

The iconic structure, completed this year and designed by Pasadena architect Christopher V. Ward of AIA Architects and built by PHAT Energy, provides about 4% of the school’s energy needs. It will also double as a teaching tool. Walden’s students, who range from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, will use the structure to learn about renewable energy and study the impact of the seasonal differences in solar energy production as the earth rotates around the sun.
“Eventually, our goal is to build more photovoltaic shade structures around our campus and become a net-zero energy producer,” Allio told the assembled crowd at the Grand Opening. “That means that we hope to produce as much electricity as we use.”

Walden School’s mission includes teaching that we all have stewardship for the world in which we live. “We’re committed to green energy,” said James Cooper, Business Manager of Walden School. “Teaching students about the environment and the outdoors is an important part of our curriculum.” While the structure is generating electricity any time the sun is shining, there is no risk of electrocution or fire and it is safe for children to play around.

PHAT Energy CEO Philippe Hartley is proud of the structure. “Education is a key part of our business. We strive to find new ways to showcase the exciting possibilities of solar energy, and this project, with its playful architecture, does that beautifully. We were pleased to be able to participate in its creation and move Walden School forward on the path to net-zero energy production.” PHAT Energy is based in La Crescenta and is known for its commitment to high-design solar, including a series of pre-fabricated structures called PHATports.

As Walden’s net-zero energy production plan moves forward, Cooper says the school plans to install more solar energy collectors over some of the playgrounds, as well as blanket the roofs of the current buildings with solar panels.

Walden School joins a growing movement towards green energy in the foothill communities, powered by climate consciousness and attractive rebates for going solar offered by utility companies.

Walden School, 74 S. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 792-6166 or visit www.waldenschool.net.

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