Friday, July 7, 2017

NEWS RELEASE – Energy Officials and San Diego Unified Celebrate Zero Net Energy Pilot at Vista Grande Elementary School

July 7, 2017

NEWS RELEASE – Energy Officials and San Diego Unified Celebrate Zero Net Energy Pilot at Vista Grande Elementary School

SAN DIEGO – To mark the start of the transformation of the Vista Grande Elementary School's main building into a zero net energy (ZNE) site, California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister and San Diego Gas & Electric's Director of Business Services Todd Cahill joined San Diego Unified's Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser, Trustee Mike McQuary and Chief Facilities Planning and Construction Officer Lee Dulgeroff for a press conference at the project site. A building is considered to be ZNE when it consumes as much energy as it produces annually.

Using Proposition 39 funds approved through the California Energy Commission's Clean Energy Jobs Act K-12 Program, the district will install Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, a solar photovoltaic system, a brand new water chiller, and will upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at Vista Grande Elementary School. Altogether, the upgrades to the main building are expected to save the school district nearly $90,000 every year. Leveraging $25 million from Proposition 39, there are an additional 77 projects planned for completion by 2020, including five solar photovoltaic projects.

"I am thrilled we are pursuing a two-pronged approach to reach our sustainability goals," said Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser. "We are reducing energy usage throughout the district while increasing the amount of clean energy we generate.  This strategy reduces our carbon footprint, creates local green jobs, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars."

In addition to Proposition 39, the district continues to invest in sustainability through the Proposition Z Capital Facilities Bond program, approved by San Diego voters in 2012. With 39 existing solar photovoltaic systems throughout the school district, an additional eight are planned for construction this summer, and an additional 12 in 2018. Altogether, there are 25 Proposition Z and Proposition 39 solar projects that are planned for construction by 2020. Once complete, it is estimated San Diego Unified will generate nearly 18 million kWh of clean energy and reduce carbon emissions by more than 8200 tons per year. Solar energy production and energy savings are expected to save the district $3.6 million per year.

"Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades makes school buildings more comfortable and creates a better learning environment," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "San Diego Unified School District - California's second-largest - has created a comprehensive energy plan to improve each campus and take advantage of its millions of dollars of Proposition 39 grants. In the long run, this will save the district money that can be invested in student programs while helping the state reach its ambitious environmental and energy goals."

San Diego Gas & Electric's Todd Cahill adds, "Our community needs more visionaries like San Diego Unified. The district understands how projects like this will save energy, save money, and foster an environment where students can become energy-savings ambassadors."

The Proposition 39 K-12 Program, which the California Energy Commission administers, helps schools improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation throughout the state. It is a voter-approved initiative that adjusted the corporate income tax code and allocated revenues to school districts for energy improvements to facilities.

Contact: Samer Naji, Facilities Communications, (619-548-3388), | Facebook – | Twitter - @sdschools | Instagram - sandiegounified

About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies. To learn more, visit the Commission's website at, join us on and follow us at

Best regards,

Samer Naji
Facilities Communication Liaison
San Diego Unified School District
O: (619) 725-7747
C: (619) 548-3388