Get involved with Solar Sunflower

We're looking for schools interested in partnering with us to enhance their math and science curriculum usingImage of Solar Sunflower SMUD's Solar Sunflower.

Please note: This year's nomination deadline has passed. Please check back later for information regarding future nominations.

What is a Solar SunFlower?

A Solar SunFlower is an 18-foot-high structure resembling a flower on a tall stalk that displays six solar panels able to generate 400 watts of electricity. It can be a good outdoor learning lab for 8th grade students and above wishing to know more about math and science. As a practical demonstration of renewable energy, students also can plug their iPods, laptops and other electronic gadgets into the SunFlower through an array of ports, including 12-volt and USB outlets. The SunFlower was designed to fit well into the STEM curriculum.

How does my school get a Solar SunFlower?

Schools interested in having a Solar SunFlower installed on their campus should be nominated by their school district office. The nomination must be accompanied by a letter from the district superintendent explaining the district's commitment to making the Solar SunFlower successful at the campus.

As to ensure a long and healthy life for your Sunflower, your District will be required to provide the following:

  • A Sunflower location ready for installation: there are 2 types of installations to choose from when considering the location for your new Sunflower. Typically scenario "A" below provides the easiest way to meet all of the requirements. Please consider all requirements before deciding where to install your Sunflower.
    • Scenario A: choose a hardscape area that is ADA compliant and free of any existing underground utilities. This hardscape (hardscape surface i.e. concrete/asphalt to be removed by the District prior to construction) only needs to be a 5'6" x 5'6" area.
    • Scenario B: the Sun Flower can be located in an existing grass/landscape immediately adjacent to an ADA compliant pathway. This location must also be free of any existing underground utilities, secure, under observation and away from athletic fields. This area must also have all existing irrigation system turned off several days prior to and during construction. The existing irrigation system must also be removed, reconfigured and reinstalled by the District. An area of approximately 12 feet in diameter is required. This scenario includes a new 11 foot circle of 4" thick unreinforced concrete paving on undisturbed native soil with no base material around the Sunflower.
  • In order to match the school's existing concrete paving section so that a geotechnical report is not required, additional reinforcement, attachment to existing concrete, additional thickness of concrete, or an aggregate base may be required to match the existing paving section if so desired. The District must provide these added components and information for the design team.
  • The installation location shall be in an area that is secure and under observation. A site that is locked and away from the athletic fields is preferred.
  • The site must be free of shading obstructions now and in the future.
  • The installation location shall adjoin an existing ADA compliant pathway.
  • A full strength Wi-Fi signal is required to be present for the Sunflower to push data up to the web.
  • The District must provide a tech (IT) professional to assist in getting the Sunflower data-logger on the schools Wi-Fi.
  • Any ADA-compliant slope issues that arise due to current existing conditions will be at the responsibility of the District. Construction will not begin until all Sunflower installation sites have been established and approved.

If the District and SMUD agree on a site that does not in keeping with these requirements, it is the Districts responsibility to cover any additional costs that arise due to deviation of the "normal" install. We look forward to the opportunity of working with your District to provide a wonderful learning tool for the students for many years to come.

Download parameters (pdf)

We welcome creative, innovative nominations that showcase the school's commitment to making the Solar SunFlower part of the curriculum. Submission ideas can include written nominations, short videos, poems or any other creative idea. Here are additional items to include in the nomination:

  •  How the Solar SunFlower will be integrated into the learning curriculum.
  •  The names of the Solar SunFlower champions at the district and at the school.
  •  How your district will handle its portion of the installation costs.
  •  How the site will be kept secure, both when school is open and when it's not in session.
  •  Descriptions of other green programs underway at the school.
  •  What makes the school special or unique.
  •  How the district will communicate the Solar SunFlower award and learning activities to the surrounding community.

Sites nominated for a Solar SunFlower must meet the site parameters.

For more information about the SunFlower program, feel free to email or call:

Brent Sloan
Community Solar Program Manager