Gold Certified Solar

As leaders around the country started to understand and promote the benefits of pollinator-friendly solar, Sun Tribe sprung into action, bringing experts from across our team together. The results have been overwhelmingly positive: Sun Tribe’s solar array at Cople Elementary School in Westmoreland County is the first Gold Certified solar site under Virginia’s Pollinator-Smart Scorecard program – a program developed in consultation with national experts that will serve as a model for other states looking for ways to promote pollinator-friendly solar.

Virginia's Pollinator Smart Program

The Virginia Pollinator-Smart Program – led by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) – allows solar projects to be judged under a rigorous and industry-leading set of guidelines for pollinator-friendliness, with Gold Certification as the highest possible designation.

The Virginia Pollinator-Smart Scorecard was developed in consultation with public- and private-sector experts, including Ernst Seeds – the largest native seed producer and supplier in the eastern United States which has been a national leader in pollinator partnerships, and Rob Davis of Fresh Energy, whose work on pollinator-friendly solar has been featured in trainings by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Conservation Training Center, the U.S. Department of Energy, and others

Schools Embrace Pollinator-Friendly Solar

The Gold Certified Cople Elementary School solar project was made possible thanks to the leadership of Superintendent Michael Perry and his team of educators. They understood that pollinator-friendly solar sites support birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that call Virginia home, and that solar offered new opportunities for their students and community members to learn about energy, science, and the environment all at once.

Because of this leadership, Westmoreland County Public Schools will be saving $3.6 million in energy costs and will meet 100 percent of Cople Elementary School’s energy needs through solar. The height of the system’s 2100 panels will allow native, pollinator-friendly species to be planted under the array, while it was also designed to consider other factors (detailed in the scorecard) including seed mix, grass diversity, educational collaboration opportunities, and vegetation management plans.

Featured by
  • Associated Press

    Solar array at school recognized as pollinator-friendly

  • Energy News Network

    Virginia elementary school earns state’s first pollinator-smart solar certification

  • Solar Power World

    Sun Tribe installs Virginia’s first gold-certified pollinator-friendly solar project

  • Public News Service

    Solar power site aims to save endangered bees, butterflies

  • Bee Culture

    Catch the buzz - solar power site saves bees and butterflies

  • VA Department of Conservation and Recreation

    Guidelines about the Virginia Pollinator Smart program.