Shining a Light on East Jordan Schools

Windemuller was given the unique opportunity to work with East Jordan Schools on a solar array project. Unlike most school solar projects, this job was not funded by the state or East Jordan Middle / High School. Instead, this project was made possible due to the fundraising efforts of The Shoe Club, an East Jordan extracurricular group with a goal of dedicating this project to the community by Earth Day 2021. The remarkable hard work and dedication performed by these students will have an impact on the school and the community for years to come.

The Shoe Club is an extracurricular group founded in 2008 by Matt Hamilton, a teacher at East Jordan Schools. This club is focused on self-worth, teamwork, goal orientation and creating empathy. The Shoe Club recently set out to make not only an impact on their school, but also on the community as a whole by finding a more sustainable way to power East Jordan Schools with solar energy. The 27 middle schoolers and three high school mentors put so much time and energy into this project, and resulted in raising $70,000 utilizing various fundraising events as well as community donations via a crowd-funding page.

The Challenge

The Windemuller team committed early on to achieve the students’ goal of completing the project in time for their Earth Day celebration. The team was aware of the expectations in advance, but after receiving a request from the school for a system increase from 20kW to 30kW, we knew we needed to get this installation kicked off as soon as possible. This commitment would set the timeline at just under two weeks, creating a tight turnaround for the Windemuller team to gather supplies and complete the work.

In addition to the short timeframe, the weather made working conditions difficult, and at times dangerous. A bulk of the project took place in mid-April, a time of year during which weather can be hit-or-miss. Unfortunately, the weather did not play out favorably and the team had to work through cold and rainy conditions. Due to the colder temperatures in the morning, freezing rain turned into a thin layer of ice on the metal roof, thus making the conditions too dangerous to work.

The Solution

Although the team was faced with multiple obstacles, they were determined to help the students reach their goal. To ensure the project ran smoothly and the required materials were available, extra time was spent in advance verifying resources were on-site. This additional step would help guarantee the team was prepared and in the long run would save time. Due to the pandemic, some materials have increased in price and are less available. Luckily, Windemuller had wisely stocked up on additional parts that could be utilized for this solar project.

Although the weather may not have been ideal, the crew found ways to work through the inclement conditions. During the morning hours when the metal roof was icy, the crew utilized the boom lift at a higher-than-average rate. Although this made the work being performed more rigorous and time consuming, this was a better alternative than stopping work completely. Thankfully when warmer temperatures were reached at mid-afternoon, the team was able to resume working on the school’s roof.

In the end, the Windemuller team met the students’ deadline and proudly attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at East Jordan Middle / High School on Earth Day. The lead staff member of the Shoe Club shared that he was almost brought to tears to see this project finally come to fruition, after the many hours of hard work the club members had put into the planning process. The Windemuller team felt a great sense of pride being able to help the students achieve their goal and to experience something so positive and powerful.

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