Soquel Union plans for green future with energy infrastructure program

Soquel Union Elementary School District (District) recently approved a plan to renew and fortify its energy infrastructure. These upgrades will provide much-needed comfort, resiliency and sustainability to its schools in the face of climate change, unpredictable public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) and rising utility costs.

“The work Soquel Union Elementary School District does to help each child succeed and positively impact our world begins in the classroom,” stated Soquel Union Superintendent Scott Turnbull. “By renewing our energy infrastructure, we are improving the reliability and quality of our facilities now and well into the future.”

The District Board of Trustees started pursuing this program in March 2021, when it brought on Climatec, a turnkey energy and building solutions provider, to identify aged infrastructure across its five schools. The District tasked Climatec with delivering priority air conditioning upgrades while pursuing green technologies that minimize energy use and mitigate projected rate increases. After considering findings from a series of assessments, the Board approved the proposed program, giving the green light for construction to begin at the end of the year.

By the end of construction, Soquel Union will have all new LED lighting and modernized HVAC units featuring advanced air filtration. Plus, the District will save water with the help of smart irrigation controls and have backup power through its own new generator. Lastly, the District is adding solar shade structures and electric vehicle charging stations, creating more opportunities for students to dine and learn outdoors, and for the District to generate its own energy.

“Improving the infrastructure and sustainability of our school district is imperative to face resource constraints we’re experiencing statewide,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Michelle Kennedy commented. “Over the next three years, PG&E projects raising the price for power by over 18% while simultaneously increasing the number of PSPS events. Those are realities that could impede our ability to keep the lights on at our schools, quite literally, if it wasn’t for this program. We’re saving greatly in the long run.”

Soquel Union creatively tapped funding sources ranging from utility incentives and programs to redevelopment funds with a municipal lease to invest in this program. In turn, it will save $8.3 million throughout the new infrastructure’s lifecycle of about 30 years.

“The District’s infrastructure modernization program will provide a buffer to rising utility costs and service challenges that are inevitable in California,” Rob Reading, Soquel Union’s lead at Climatec, noted. “It is also going to bring a cascade of benefits to their community, whether through more comfortable learning environments for students, setting the tone for sustainability in its communities or by relieving pressure from both its budget and the electrical grid. Soquel Union is thinking ahead.”

About Soquel Union Elementary School District
Soquel Union Elementary School District serves 1,700 students in the communities of Capitola, Soquel and Santa Cruz, California throughout its five schools. The District is committed to providing strong academic programs that allow every child the opportunity to reach his or her highest learning potential. The District has a long-standing tradition of community-focused programs and engagement.

About Climatec
Founded in 1975, Climatec is a leading provider of turnkey implementation and funding solutions for public agencies looking to remedy and improve aging infrastructure. Climatec serves building owners across all public sector market segments, including education, state, county, the local and federal government. Climatec specializes in designing & implementing energy, water, and operational improvements that provide significant relief for the general fund and capital budgets while making buildings smarter, safer & more efficient. Visit for more information.