Case Study

Palo Alto Unified School District

“At PAUSD, sustainability has grown from tiny seed to little sprout. To help it grow more, we’re building a master plan that touches core areas to make change. Renewable energy and more solar are critical components of that plan.”

Rebecca Navarro, Palo Alto Unified School District Sustainability Program Manager 

The Scenario

Palo Alto Unified School District is nestled on the beautiful California coastline, where Silicon Valley meets the San Francisco peninsula.

The district staff, students, and parents are passionate about being environmental stewards in their community and beyond. Going solar on their campuses was almost a foregone conclusion, but doing it properly was no simple task.

The diversity of this district’s campuses, both in form and function, make it a wonderful and unique place to attend school but difficult to site solar effectively.

The City of Palo Alto has always been a careful steward of its old-growth trees, and the district has labored to create functional and aesthetically pleasing environments at each of its campuses.

The Solution 

REC Solar worked diligently with district personnel, individual stakeholders and the broader community to ensure solar installations at each site were minimally invasive, aesthetically pleasing, functionally efficient and integrated well into the overall campus plans.

The project used high-efficiency panels, on a variety of mounting methods, to ensure that each campus had an optimized use of the appropriate location for the solar installation.

For example, PAUSD chose to install tall solar canopies at its bus yard versus a historic high school lot. The change not only saved the district money and cut emissions, but it is also cutting weather-related wear and tear costs on buses. 



6 installations in Palo Alto, California

Project Type

Roof and carport

Project Size

1.43 MW DC total

Annual Production

2,382,000 kWh total


Energy offset equal to 266 homes' electricity for one year