Consumers throughout the nation are striving to reduce their energy usage, by investing in energy efficiency products and connected devices. Energy companies that provide service to residential and commercial consumers are also doing their part, as well.Wilde Lake Middle is the first of its kind, a net-zero energy school that relies on a $33 million solar panel array to generate energy. In fact, the 1,400 solar panels, along with 600 panels that collect sunlight from the ground, will generate enough energy to suffice the school’s uses. The new school in Columbia is larger than the former Wilde Lake School it is replacing.
Howard County is anticipating a significant enrollment growth, so the school was designed to facilitate this need. The 48-year-old Wilde Lake School will be demolished and transformed into a bus loop and athletic fields. The new school was built on the same campus, so parents, children and bus drivers do not need to worry about new bus routes.
The new Wilde Lake Middle opened on January 2, 2017, when the students entered the facility for the first time after an 11-day winter break. According to school’s Principal Anne Swartz, the students were excited and full of smiles, when they arrived at the new facility.
Doug Spicher, a Wilde Lake Middle science teacher, is incorporating the solar panels into his teaching materials. He shows the students how much energy is produced by the solar array, with a very detailed graph. The solar panels will not produce as much energy on cloudy days, compared to sunny days.
The school energy usage will be drastically down on weekends, but at the beginning of the week, the solar panels will be ready to suffice the school’s energy needs.