Credit: Efren Villasenor Jr.

Zero Net Energy Powers San Bernardino Community College District

SCE partners with community college on a retrofit pilot to reduce greenhouse gases.
Photo Credit: Efren Villasenor Jr.

At San Bernardino Community College District headquarters, providing educational opportunities and creating a healthier environment go hand in hand.

When students and adult learners go to the district’s Applied Technology Training and Professional Development Centers, they are learning in Zero Net Energy buildings. The headquarters’ buildings, where the centers are located, have been retrofitted to produce as much energy as they use.

As part of the Proposition 39 Zero Net Energy Schools Pilot Program, the district, with the help of Southern California Edison, recently applied measures to reduce its carbon footprint. San Bernardino is the first community college district to participate in the pilot program.

Students' learning now takes places in classrooms using LED lights and automatic motorized window and reflective shades.
Students' learning now takes places in classrooms using LED lights and automatic motorized window and reflective shades.

Through the project, the district’s buildings were retrofitted with solar tubes and automatic motorized window and reflective shades to use more natural light. Fluorescent lights were replaced with LED lighting that have daylight lighting controls in place. The controls dim the lights based on the amount of sunshine coming in through the classroom or office’s windows.

“With the new lighting, you can see that the students and staff are happier, “said Farrah Farzaneh, director of Facilities Planning & Construction at San Bernardino Community College District. “You can see it in their moods and attitudes.”

In addition to using more natural light, the district switched to more efficient rooftop air-conditioning units and installed a carport covered with 170 kilowatt solar panels. The carport provides shade to the cars parked under it while producing clean, solar energy.

The results of the district’s retrofit efforts benefit the environment as well as the students, educators, staff and college district. Most people don’t realize that commercial and residential buildings are significant contributors to California’s greenhouse gas emissions."

Jill Anderson, SCE Vice President

“The results of the district’s retrofit efforts benefit the environment as well as the students, educators, staff and college district. Most people don’t realize that commercial and residential buildings are significant contributors to California’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jill Anderson, SCE’s vice president of Customer Programs and Services. “We hope to be able to replicate the results that are being achieved at SBCCD, at other community colleges and with other customers throughout our service area.”

The district is well on its way to using as much energy as it is producing, Farzaneh noted,  due to the measures the district took through this project.

Several months after the completion of the retrofit, it has already reduced its energy use by about 15%. And, on some days, the district is sending extra solar energy back to the grid. This has resulted in lower electric bills and energy savings. The district expects the results to improve even more as the new systems are optimized over the coming months.

To complete the project, SCE collaborated with the district, contractors, product manufacturers and Southern California Gas to ensure the best results. In addition to technical, engineering and planning support, SCE also provided $300,000 to San Bernardino Community College District through the Statewide Emerging Technologies Program to help fund the retrofit.