In a special Earth Day dedication, the Green Mountain Energy™ Sun Club™ completed its first solar array installation in Pennsylvania as it “flipped the switch” on a solar farm stand at Greensgrow Farms, an urban farmer’s market in Philadelphia. A new, free-standing structure topped with solar panels will generate renewable energy and help reduce electricity costs for the non-profit. The Sun Club® is a unique program enabling Green Mountain Energy Companyand its employees and customers, including those in the Philadelphia area, to donate solar power to non-profits like Greensgrow Farms.
This solar project was made possible by a $20,000 donation to the farm last year. The 4.8-kilowatt solar array is comprised of 16 panels and covers 480 square feet on the top of the unique structure, designed and installed by Sunora Energy Solutions. The structure will serve as a “solar farm stand,” providing a shaded place for customers to pick-up fresh produce and meeting about 10 percent of the farm’s onsite electricity needs such as lighting and refrigeration. An array of this size is expected to generate an estimated 4,900 kilowatt-hours of pollution-free energy and avoid an estimated 9,600 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year.
“Today we’re proud to use the same power of the sun that grows our fresh fruits and vegetables to help our farm grow in a whole new way,” said Mary Seton Corboy, founder and chief farm hand, Greensgrow Farms. “This solar array gives us the opportunity to educate our volunteers and patrons even more on environmental best practices. We thank the Sun Club for helping us expand our sustainability efforts and for bringing more solar to our community.”
Growers of food, flowers and neighborhoods, Greensgrow Farms brings health and nutrition awareness to an urban area where local produce is scarce. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, over 40 percent of food produced in the United States is wasted, and food not grown locally travels on average about 1,500 miles from farm to consumer. Greensgrow grows much of its farm stand produce on-site and sources the rest from within 150 miles, cutting down the CO2 emissions that would have been produced during traditional methods of transport. What was once a dilapidated industrial site is today an active, vibrant urban farm including what Greensgrow refers to as a “City Supported Agriculture” (CSA) pick-up site, plant nursery and now a solar farm stand.
“In urban environments like Philadelphia, it’s easy to forget the important role nature plays in our lives. Greensgrow Farms is here keeping sustainable agriculture in the forefront of our minds, bettering the health of its community and setting an example for local businesses with extensive sustainability efforts,” said Tony Napolillo, Sun Club Program Manager, Green Mountain Energy Company. “The Sun Club is thrilled to contribute to those efforts with this solar array. We couldn’t have found a better partner for our first major Pennsylvania project.”
The solar dedication ceremony coincides with Greensgrow’s annual Neighborhood Greening event in honor of Earth Day. Greensgrow and Green Mountain volunteers and employees will replant flowers displayed at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The flowers will be planted at four locations across the city in an effort to beautify the farm’s surrounding neighborhoods. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), the host of the Philadelphia Flower Show, was named a 2014 Sun Club solar recipient last month.
In addition to the solar farm stand installation, Greensgrow Farms is a recipient of the Sun Club Solar Leader Award and new member of the Sun Club Hall of Fame. The Sun Club Hall of Fame is a group of exceptional Sun Club donation recipients who seamlessly incorporate solar power into their initiatives and serve as a role model for organizations looking to adopt earth-friendly practices.
Greensgrow is a nationally recognized leader in urban farming and is open to the public year round. It offers a wide variety of produce-related services, including the urban farm, a nursery, a farm stand, City Supported Agriculture (CSA) seasonal shares, a community kitchen, and various mobile markets. As part of their Local Initiative for Food Education (LIFE) program, the organization aims to break down the financial, logistical, and educational barriers that contribute to the deteriorating health of Philadelphia communities.
About Green Mountain Energy™ Sun Club™
Green Mountain Energy™ Sun Club™ is a program empowering Green Mountain Energy Company, its residential customers and employees to donate solar power to sustainably minded non-profit organizations. Since the program’s founding in 2002, the Sun Club has donated more than $2.5 million to help install over 600 kilowatts of solar power, which has the potential to avoid more than 924,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That’s like planting 110 trees every year.
About Green Mountain Energy Company
Green Mountain (greenmountain.com) is the nation’s longest serving renewable energy retailer and believes in using wind, sun and water for good. The company was founded in 1997 with the mission to “change the way power is made.” Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, as well as a variety of carbon offset products and sustainable solutions for businesses. One of Green Mountain’s largest customers is the “world’s most famous office building,” the Empire State Building in New York City. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid more than 24.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.