Mission & History

The most comprehensive solar schools program in the country, Solar 4R Schools started in 2002. Since then, the program has installed more than 250 solar-electric, or photovoltaic (PV) demonstration systems on schools and community centers and introduced more than 40,000 students to renewable energy technology.

Through Solar 4R Schools, BEF hopes to increase the visibility and public understanding of renewable energy. Just as many adults now recycle because they learned to do it in school, we hope that today’s students will learn about solar technology and develop a commitment to renewable energy that will inspire their future leadership. Solar 4R Schools provides faculty and facility personnel, parents, community members, installers, and city permitting officials with direct experience implementing solar electricity, including consideration for such factors as safety, roof penetrations, grid-connection, reliability, and maintenance.


To break down the barriers inhibiting the widespread adoption of renewable energy.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Parents, teachers, school administrators and other community members will all have the opportunity to see, experience and learn about solar power. Participating community members will be inspired to conserve energy at home and maybe even install their own PV systems.
  • Project owners, facility managers and city permitting officials learn that this technology is safe and reliable, the equipment is low-maintenance, and there is very little risk of structural problems, roof damage or liability issues when a PV system is designed and installed correctly.
  • Contractors learn to install systems in a more cost-effective manner by gaining experience working with different components and installing different types of projects. We have worked with several electrical contractors in remote locations who had no prior experience with PV systems and helped them learn what they needed to know in order to install the system correctly.
  • Electric utilities gain experience net metering, interconnecting, and inspecting this technology. The PV system is “grid-tied” and needs to be connected to the utility grid in a safe and efficient manner. BEF has actually worked with several utilities to develop and streamline their interconnection rules.
  • These projects give BEF the experience and benchmarks to develop financial models for large systems.