Energy Conservation

We’re so excited to be actively pursuing the possibility of turning our flat, heat-trapping, largely unshaded synagogue roof (over 15,000 square feet of usable space, enough to provide nearly 100 kilowatts during peak sunlight if/when we build it out entirely!).

An exciting new approach known as “Community Solar,” brought to our attention initially via Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (www.gwipl.org), is to create a small LLC (limited liability corporation, which has to be distinct from the synagogue itself) to whom we lease our roof — its private investors pay for the installation and upkeep of the solar panels, made affordable by the many federal and state tax credits available (which non-profits unfortunately can’t directly access), and get paid back modestly by selling to the synagogue the electricity that ‘their’ panels on ‘our’ roof provides; at the end of the likely 8-10 year payback period, the panels are donated to the shul!

So this model means that the community uses a good amount of renewable energy generated onsite from day 1, and thus tremendously lowers its carbon footprint; it generates a very public and meaningful ‘greening’ of the synagogue building without expending a penny from the congregational budget; and it’s a huge financial boon to the congregation at the end of the payback period, when its utility bills plummet after the panels are donated to the shul. What a great approach! It doesn’t work in every state yet, but advocates are changing that; click on “more on the ‘community solar’ model” (on the right-hand side of this webpage, scroll down under “Solar Roof Effort”) to get a professional’s opinion.

But wherever it’s already allowed, look for this to become the norm within a few years — so join us in being early adapters, even now. We hope to have panels up by the end of 2010; details, and more resources, forthcoming here on h2c2.wordpress.com …

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