New "Solar School" Contest Challenges Asheville-Area Students to Compete for Free Solar Array

Asheville and Buncombe County (N.C.) schools invited to participate in "The Solar Schools Challenge" and Explore Solar Power as Way to Meet Energy Needs

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (October 1, 2014) – One Asheville City or Buncombe County school will win a free solar demonstration system by participating in a new contest announced today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the NC Green Schools Program. Called "The Solar Schools Challenge," the competition encourages students, parents, teachers and administrators to take proactive steps to learn more about renewable energy and implement solar power in their schools.

The Solar Schools Challenge, the first contest of its kind in the country, is open to all public, private and charter elementary, middle and high schools within Asheville and Buncombe County. There is no cost or obligation to participate in the competition.

"We're thrilled to launch the Solar Schools Challenge in Asheville, Buncombe County," said Jay Orfield with NRDC's Solar Schools Program. "This community has already proven to be one of the most innovative in the country when it comes to sustainability and environmental awareness, and we're confident the youth here understand the importance of renewable energy and will embrace the Challenge. This program not only encourages students to learn more about clean technology, but it also raises awareness of the potential role that solar power can have in the City of Asheville and communities throughout Buncombe County."

In order to successfully complete the Challenge, entrants must form a team consisting of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and/or staff to lead their school's efforts; demonstrate ongoing support from the school's community; raise the profile of solar by engaging students in various solar-related educational activities; and enlist the help of Challenge experts to find out how solar best fits on their school campus by conducting a simple solar assessment.

Following completion of the Challenge on December 12, a panel of judges will assign a grade to entries out of 100 points based on each team's thoroughness, rate of participation and creativity. Winners will be announced in four categories: public high schools, public middle schools, public elementary schools, and private and charter schools. One grand prize winner will earn a free solar demonstration system to be installed on their school's campus. The first place winners in each of the other categories will receive smaller, off-the-grid solar systems. All participating teams will be recognized for their leadership during the competition.

Rather than providing students a blueprint for solar schools, the contest is designed so that schools work independently to make the case for solar both in their school and the community. Participants earn points in four categories and will track their progress by uploading information onto a contest website. NRDC's Solar Schools team will serve as a resource and support each school's efforts in every aspect of the program.

"Our goal isn't just to provide a fun and engaging activity for our schools, but to encourage them to take the first steps in making solar power a reality," said Katie Cavert Ferrell with NC Green Schools Program. "We encourage all of those associated with schools in Asheville and Buncombe County to participate in this one-of-a-kind educational competition, and we can't wait to see what the students come up with."

To learn more about The Solar Schools Challenge and get started, visit


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The NC Green Schools Program encourages, supports and recognizes the efforts of all NC P-12 schools that have taken strides to make their schools 21st century institutions of quality and sustainability. Additionally, NC Green Schools affirms the mission statement of the Public Schools of North Carolina and works to support and enhance those goals through sustainability initiatives.

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