Who knew that George Mason High School was on its first stepping stone to going green? Thanks to rising senior Jamie Peterson, the school is planning to install solar panels on the roof of the school. While the panels will only produce approximately 2.2 Kilowatts of energy — enough to constantly run two washer-dryer sets — the project is primarily seen as an educational tool that can be used in the curriculum at all levels, Peterson said.
“It’s not going to balance out anything at the school much, but hopefully … future classes can add on more solar panels,” Peterson said. He hopes that with what he’s starting, graduating senior classes that traditionally offer a class gift to the school will do so in the form of additional solar panels.
Inspired by the emerging alternative energy technology he learns about from his father, an Environmental Protection Agency employee, Jamie decided to try an alternative energy system on the school. He felt that while George Mason High School and the City of Falls Church support helping the environment, not enough is being done. The school has a recycling system and an active environmental club, while Falls Church has been the first city in Virginia to be named a “Tree City” community by The National Arbor Day Foundation.
However, except for the businesses and private homes that use renewable energy, some even being certified as “green buildings” by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, little has been done in the public sector.
“It’s kind of surprising how a city that’s so focused on the environment hasn’t done something with alternative energy, and I hope to start that,” Peterson said.
Peterson plans to purchase solar panels through Switch, a locally based renewable energy systems company. Because this is the company’s first project with a non-profit, they’re bumping down the charge to a “basically barebone” price of $25,000, Peterson said. He’s planning on raising all the money himself through the help of individual donors and a $4,000 matching grant from Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society.
Thus far, Peterson has raised over $1,000 so far.
With the official approval from Lois Berlin, the superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools, as well as a nod from the county’s School Board and George Mason High School principle Robert Snee, Peterson is continuing to drive towards his substantial goal.
“I’m really impressed with Jamie,” said science department head Maggie Wiseman. “He’s done all the right things by talking to the right people.”
Peterson hopes to raise all the money he needs by the end of the year — or at least before he graduates.
“With what I’ll get, I’ll do what I can.”
For information about the project, Jamie Peterson can be contacted at [email protected].