MALIBU — With proceeds from a lemonade stand, students at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School are reducing their carbon footprint by going solar.

Students contributed $300 toward the purchase of 33 solar panels, which have been installed at one of the Malibu campus’ buildings, making Point Dume, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the first public elementary school in Southern California to join the local power grid, district officials said.

“It has been our goal to tie in all aspects of our environmental science curriculum and bring in real life models for our students,” said Point Dume Principal Chi Kim. “Thanks to some exceptional public and private community partnerships, we are the beneficiaries of a community that believes in working together to create a more sustainable world for future generations. I am thankful that our students can really be a part of our contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.”

The total project cost is estimated at $100,000, Kim said, with the majority of the funding coming from the school’s PTA, The David Geffen Foundation, Shangri-La Construction, Diana and Roger Jenkins, and Kelly and Ron Meyer.

The panels, which were installed by Perma City Solar on southward facing classrooms to ensure maximum sun exposure, will generate enough power to prevent 3.52 tons of coal from being burned and 10,919 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, district officials said.

Energy generated will not be enough to power the entire school, Kim said. The panels will act as a demonstration project for students.

When asked his thoughts about the project, fifth-grader Harry Putterman said, “It’s a learning experience to find ways to help stop global warming. If you learn about it then you can help stop it.”

Point Dume students are taught about the fragile ecosystems and how one’s choices make a vital difference to the world, Kim said.

“Learning about the environment teaches students that they can make a difference in their own school and hopefully their homes,” said fifth-grader Emma Kelly.

Getting the panels installed wasn’t easy, Kim said. It took roughly two-and-a-half years to get approval from the Department of State Architects, which provides design and construction oversight for K–12 schools and community colleges, and develops and maintains accessibility standards and codes utilized in public and private buildings throughout the state.

“They are really stringent because it is a public building,” Kim said of DSA.

Funding came easy.

Parents and donors were willing to contribute once they heard about the educational and environmental benefits.

“We made our commitment a couple of years ago,” said Point Dume PTA President Robyn Ross. “We definitely wanted to support the project and the kids and all of the learning that has gone on around the solar project.”

Ross said the installation of the panels has been a “amazing” experience for the students, who are learning how to take care of the Earth.

“To have them actually see what is happening on a daily basis is an incredible opportunity,” she said.

Starting next week when Southern California Edison connects the panels to the energy grid, students will be able to check out how much power is being generated each day through a wireless monitoring system. Students will be able to log on from any computer on campus.

“It makes me feel pretty good that I earned money for the lemonade stand,” said third-grader Tyler Ray. “Instead of using electricity, we wanted to help the environment by getting solar panels.”

kevinh@smdp.com