Makati LGU launches solar panel project in public schools

The Makati City local government launched on Thursday, March 30, its solar panel installation  project in the city's public schools as part of its efforts in promoting sustainability and awareness about the adverse effects of climate change.

During the ceremonial launch of the project at San Antonio National High School, Makati City Mayor Abby Binay stressed the importance of  “walking the talk” when it comes to promoting sustainability and raising awareness about the impact of climate change.

"As a city, we have a responsibility to protect the environment and address the effects of climate change. The use of solar panels in schools is just one step towards achieving our goal of creating a more sustainable and resilient city. By investing in solar panels for our public schools, we are taking a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for our beloved city,” Binay said.

She added that as of Thursday's launching, nine public schools in Makati have already shifted to sustainable and renewable energy by using solar panels.

Under the said project, a total of 25 public elementary and high schools in the city will transition to the use of solar energy with San Antonio National High School as one of the first schools to have fully-operational solar panels on site.

Makati High School, East Rembo Elementary School,  Makati Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School, San Antonio Village Elementary School, Nicanor Garcia Elementary School, Tibagan High School, and Rizal Elementary School have also started using solar panels.

Meanwhile, panel installation is ongoing at Fort Bonifacio High School, Guadalupe Viejo Elementary School, Gen. Pio del Pilar National High School, Bangkal Elementary School-Main, Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino High School and Pitogo Elementary School.

According to Binay, the solar panels will effectively reduce energy consumption and costs in schools by harnessing the power of the sun. By using solar panels, schools will be able to generate electricity, reduce their reliance on traditional power sources, and decrease their carbon footprint.

The panels are projected to produce enough energy to power the schools during daylight hours, with excess energy being fed back into the grid.

In a report by San Antonio National High School, 88 percent (3644 kWh) of its recent total electricity consumption came from collected solar power energy, while the remaining 12 percent (498 kWh) was sourced from the usual electric distribution utility company.

Besides saving the city energy and money, the mayor said San Antonio High School’s transition to renewable energy also translates to environmental benefits: 2.41 equivalent trees planted and 4.35 t CO2 emissions saved.

“The city’s solar panel project is an excellent example of how local governments can take action to promote sustainable energy practices and lead by example. The initiative is a significant step towards a more sustainable future and one that will inspire other cities and communities to follow suit,” the local chief said.

The next phase of the project will cover 10 more public schools in the city.

Being a staunch advocate of sustainability and environmental awareness, Binay has promoted and launched several programs and initiatives aimed at combatting climate change and reducing the city's carbon footprint.

On Aug. 5, she declared a state of climate emergency in the city as she called for a whole-of-society approach in responding to the crisis.

“As temperatures and sea levels continue to rise, low-lying coastal areas in cities like Makati have become more vulnerable to strong typhoons that bring floods and landslides. This will result not only in the disruption of public services but also the displacement of families and even entire communities,” Binay said during a webinar organized by Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO).

Binay laid out her administration’s programs and initiatives aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions in the city which includes the procurement of electric vehicles (e-vehicles) to be used by the city government, installation of solar panels in public schools and government offices to minimize energy consumption, and to ensure continuity of services during calamities.

“We call upon everyone to come together and act now. We must ensure aggressive application of the whole-of-society approach in combating climate change. We heard the data. We understood the science, and we are feeling its impact. Now is a crucial time to act, and we need to act fast. We need thinkers, doers, and movers,” Binay said.

“The time for action is now. As the new breed of Makatizens and global citizens, it is our responsibility to take care of our city and ensure that it remains a livable place for future generations. We must promote sustainability and climate consciousness in all our actions. We must be the change we want to see in our city and the world,” she added.

The city government is also strictly implementing the Solid Waste Management Code, Makati Green Building Code, plastic ban among households and business establishments, ban on cigarette smoking, Anti-Smoke Belching Ordinance, and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Ordinance.

The mayor also held a meeting with officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as it outlined its programs and initiatives in making Makati a smart and green city such as the integration of electric vehicles (e-vehicles), healthy foods for students, disaster reduction technology, and hydroponics, among others.

On Aug. 3, Binay announced that electric buses (E-buses) will soon be a part of the regular public transportation sector in the city following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the city government and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on the establishment of a smart public transport system in the city.

The smart public transport system will provide commuters with an affordable means of transportation, help mitigate the impacts of climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions since the eco-friendly buses are powered by electricity.

The $13-million partnership includes the development of a public transportation master plan, establishment of a public transport information and communications technology (ICT) system, pilot operation of electric vehicle (EV) bus service, establishment of an EV bus depot, and capacity building of officials and personnel.

The city government will provide the lands for the construction of the EV bus depot and parking area, oversee the implementation of the project, and secure a sufficient amount from its budget to cover the expenses required for the operation of the project, including the cost of proper storage, utilities for operation, and maintenance of ICT system and EV buses.

The mayor said the construction of the EV bus depot, control center, ICT system, and other facilities will start during the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2025.