The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

West Shines a Light on New Solar Panels

Solar panels can be seen on the top of the school.

Solar panels have taken residence upon District 219 rooftops. With an installation already underway and set to be completed by the end of the year, the district hopes to save significant costs and the earth. Solar Panels are panels that absorb sunlight and convert it into energy, enough energy to power the whole school.

District 219 has been working with Illinois Solar For All, which provides affordable renewable energy alternatives to communities around the state. This program provided the district with solar panels at no cost, but it was a long road getting there.

“We started trying to get the solar panels about two and a half years ago. Part of the process was you have to apply for the grant and not everyone gets accepted,” Director of Operations Sarah Kowalski said. “The grant only opens up one or two times a year, so we had to wait until that cycle opened up and it took a few months for them to review the district’s application. It was far from easy and getting approval was just a lot of waiting.”

The conversation around installing solar panels started with Superintendent Thomas Moore and school board member Joe Nowik pushing more environmentally friendly ways to power the school.

It started with a request from a board member Joe Nowik. He’s the one who is really pushing to get solar panels. He had them put on his house, and he thought, ‘why can’t we expand this and use it at the district?’Kowalski said. 

Solar panels help the environment by reducing fossil fuel emissions and saving energy, but this is just one piece of a broader plan to address climate change and make the school more environmentally friendly.

“With every single construction project we do, the environmental effects are always something we consider. We’re talking about electric buses and what that could look like for the district, so that’s something that’s on the forefront. It’s something that Superintendent Moore is super passionate about so those conversations have been happening more and more,” architect from the architecture firm Studio GC Athi Toufexis said. “We’re also considering adding a new water heater that could heat the pool in the winter.”

Only time will tell how much the solar panels will affect the community at large, but district officials are still optimistic.

“I think that it’s a great start and I’m hoping that we will see results in the future with regards to saving money and energy. It’s making me and the rest of the school think about how our energy usage affects the rest of the world,” Principal Jeremy Christian said. 

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