Opinion: Covered parking at NDP

This chart shows how effective solar panels are and how much energy one can produce in full sunlight. Photo courtesy of the solarpowerrocks.com

NDP prides itself on innovation in education; however, one advancement that NDP has yet to integrate into the campus: covered parking. 

Laura Geggel, an associate director for Live Science, wrote, “within one hour, the temperature inside a car parked in the sun on a day that reached 95 degrees… hit an average of 116 degrees.” In Arizona, high temperatures turncars into ovens after a few minutes. A solution to the problem of students’ cars overheating is to add covered parking.

Even more than being a burden, letting students’ cars overheat throughout the day can potentially be a safety hazard. NDP junior Christian Galia believes that covered parking should be added at NDP because his driving is affected by the high temperatures his car can reach. “Sometimes the steering wheel is even too hot to grab,” said Galia. 

One issue with adding shaded parking to NDP parking lots is how to get money to pay for this installment. On top of other projects, building covered parking would require a large sum of money. However, it is possible to collect money through donations, fundraising at school, and asking parents to help finance the project. “Although parents may not be happy with having to spend more money, the benefits are worth the cost,” said NDP senior Bianca Angeles.

Another way to combat the problem of finding funding for this project is using covered parking to reduce spending elsewhere.

Solar canopies are a combination between solar panels and standard parking spot covering. They take the structure of a parking cover and add solar panels on the top to collect energy from the sun’s rays to be used for other purposes. If NDP used solar canopies as parking covers for every parking lot, the amount of energy being produced would quickly pay for itself by powering the school’s electricity. 

Since NDP is blessed with the constant sunlight that Arizona provides, solar  canopies would be a viable option as an alternative energy source. Science Teacher Kandi Wojtysiak believes that the introduction of solar canopies to NDP would be “a great use of a natural resource we are squandering.” It is important for society to use more renewable resources, and using solar energy instead of fossil fuels is one way that NDP can support this trend of ecological awareness. 

One standard solar panel can produce up to 320 watts of electricity when exposed to full sunlight for an hour, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Since there is a constant stream of sunlight in Arizona, one panel could produce up to 2,560 watts of electricity in one school day. The national average for electricity use at schools is 10 kilowatt hours, so introducing solar canopies at NDP would be able to create more energy than needed, giving the school more money to spend elsewhere.

If a few solar panels can power whole households and save homeowners money, then widespread solar canopies should be able to have the same effect for NDP. We should “take advantage of living in the Valley of the Sun,” said NDP senior Chris Bateman, and turn the burden of excessive sunlight into a tool.