In August 2020, Global Links, a Pittsburgh, PA-based medical relief and international development nonprofit, put its new 63.2 kilowatt (kW) solar installation into operation. Put into service just in time for organizationâ€™s 30th anniversary, the 10,000 square foot array sits on the rooftop of the organizationâ€™s headquarters and warehouse facility.
Said Angela Garcia, executive director of Global Links, at the time, â€śFor 30 years, Global Links has helped healthcare institutions, businesses, and the community reduce their environmental impact through the donation of surplus and no longer needed medical supplies, home healthcare supplies, and office equipment. We seek every opportunity to minimize the environmental impact of our own operations, and our conversion to solar not only serves our energy needs, but will serve as a model for inspiring further green energy development in our region.â€ť
The project fits with Global Linksâ€™ organizational culture, but the project didnâ€™t fit into the nonprofitâ€™s budget. However, this renewable energy project was able to come to fruition through partnerships and discovering financing options. This was the first cohort project of the Pennsylvania (PA) Solar Center and was made possible through a financing tool offered by the installer, Scalo Solar Solutions, LLC, along with $150,000 grant by the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club.
Discussing the pursuit of the project, Garcia, said, â€śWhen we learned of PA Solar Centerâ€™s new Pittsburgh-based initiative to help nonprofits go solar, we joined the inaugural cohort to explore options. Since moving into our new headquarters in 2012, we had wanted to go solar, but without the benefit of tax credits, it was cost prohibitive. Because we also needed a new roof, Scalo Solar was able to combine a reflective white roof and bifacial panels to optimize tax credits and power generation The technical support from the PA Solar Center, the special financing arrangement from Scalo Solar, and a grant from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club allowed us to achieve our goals.â€ť
The project involved removing the facilityâ€™s old roof and replacing it with a reflective white roof to allow for additional energy generation. A total of 162 bi-facial solar panels were installed for optimal energy absorption, with the full array expected to generate 82% of energy currently used at the facility.
Adds David Davis, logistics manager for Global Links, â€śMoving surplus medical supplies and equipment into medical relief aid in an environmentally sustainable way has always been [a] primary goalâ€”whether thatâ€™s recycling every material possible or running our trucks on vegetable oil. Adopting solar panels for energy to help us process donated medical supplies for those in need makes perfect sense.â€ť
Says Michael Carnahan, vice president and general manager of Scalo Solar Solutions, â€śA 2015 report from The Citizens for Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Future shows that PAâ€™s fossil fuel subsidies are almost $3.2 billion per year. But if nonprofits generate their own clean, renewable energy, they are disenfranchised from receiving these subsidies because more than 50% of the cost of active solar energy is reduced through tax incentives only available to for-profit commercial consumers. At Scalo Solar, we look to provide the bridge between these incentives and nonprofits like Global Links.â€ť
He continues, â€śBy leasing their roof and installing and owning the solar panels ourselves, we can monetize those tax benefits that these nonprofits are ineligible for. These types of deals are called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Along with the grant from Green Mountainâ€™s Sun Club, we were able to not only provide enough solar for the majority of their energy needs, but replace their aging and leaking roof as wellâ€¦ at no cost to the nonprofit. Had it not been for the PA Solar Center that brought us all together, this would not have happened.â€ť
Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager for Green Mountain Energy, explained, â€śThanks to donations from Green Mountain customers and our dedicated employees we have now reached $10 million in grants dedicated to advance sustainability in our communities. Nonprofits can apply for funding year-round, and Sun Club supports projects promoting clean transportation, sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency, renewable energy, resource conservation, and education and awareness.â€ť
Global Links is one of more than 120 projects to receive a sustainability grant from Sun Club.
Cosgrove is Editor-in-Chief of Facility Executive. To learn more about Global Links, visit www.globallinks.org. For more on Scalo Solar Solutions at www.scalo-solar.com. Learn more about Green Mountain Energy at www.greenmountainenergy.com.
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