Club Fit Goes Solar!

Club Fit Goes Solar

Wonderful news everyone – the solar panels at Club Fit are being turned on! We would love to take this opportunity to discuss the significance of this event and what it means for our club and more importantly, our community and environment. 

While the demands of everyday life can easily lull us into an egocentric existence, on occasion we are disrupted, drawn back to the bigger picture, and reminded that our home is dying. In the face of unrelenting population growth, unfortunate over-reliance on fossil fuels, and a slowly suffocating Earth, an unprecedented need for energy and food to be mindfully and sustainably sourced stares back at us, a solemn reminder that if we want to offer our children and grandchildren the same privileges of existence we so much enjoy, we need to act, and we need to act now. Fortunately, alternate energy sources are becoming more and more popular, with wind and solar energy taking the lead. In addition to being renewable, solar energy is also cheap compared to other energy sources and the cost of maintaining solar power systems is relatively low (Rabaua, et al., 2021). Solar (and wind) energy also positively contributes to the climate and air quality across the United States, and cumulative benefits over a ten-year period include billions of dollars and thousands of lives saved (Millstein, Wiser, Bolinger, & Barbose, 2017).  

So, the decision to shift into solar energy should have been easy, yes? Well… yes and no. The thought of utilizing solar energy has been on Club Fit President Bill Beck’s mind for years. Making energy consumption less impactful and lowering the cost of energy are great reasons to want to go solar. And considering the size of the roof covering our Briarcliff facility, why not? However, the cost of installing such a large collection of solar panels kept these good intentions at bay, at least until New York State got involved. Efforts to encourage the consumption of solar energy paved the way for promises of federal and state tax cuts and financial support to those installing solar panels, all of which finally thrust Mr. Beck’s into this significant two-million-dollar investment.  

Shining a Bright Light on the Power of Solar

Heaven and Earth: Solar Installation Reflects Maryknoll Mission

Fortunately for Mr. Beck, one 30+ year member, Eric Messer, knows a little bit about solar panel installation… Principal at Sunrise Solar Solutions LLC, Eric was able to work with Bill to get our Club Fit Briarcliff location equipped with solar panels. These panels typically work by absorbing sunlight and solar energy, and then converting this energy from DC to AC energy we use to power our lives. However, at Club Fit, the solar energy collected will be stored in Tesla batteries, a method of solar energy collection that is becoming increasingly popular. This method allows energy to besavedand utilized at a later time, say maybe a “peak” energy consumption time? The really cool thing about storing this energy in batteries is that this could help prevent brown outs during periods of time where we see significant energy consumption. Essentially, during peak times, the grid can become overwhelmed when power companies are not producing enough energy. Storing solar energy in batteries allows us to tap into those batteries during peak hours as to not overwhelm the system and also ensure that individuals do not experience power shortages or outages!  

In addition to helping the grid and being super cool in general, there are many other benefits turning these solar panels on offers us and our community. Here are a few interesting statistics surrounding our solar panel system:  

  • System Size: 560 kW  
  • Tesla Battery Storage Size: 1600 kW  
  • Homes Powered: approximately 110  
  • Carbon Dioxide offset: slightly under 1,000,000 pounds  

A final fascinating feature of our solar panels’ capabilities includes the amount of carbon dioxide that is sequestered (carbon sequestration is the process of collecting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and storing it in a way that prevents the atmosphere from warming). The impact of Club Fit’s future carbon sequestering will equal that of a forest 1/3 the size of Briarcliff (if we were to imagine that areacompletelycovered in trees). Not bad in my humble little opinion.  

Moving forward, Bill Beck hopes to extend our efforts of consuming energy responsibly to our Jefferson Valley location, possibly our parking lots (space is space). I personally hope to see others follow the example Club Fit has set for our environment and community – how wonderful would it be to one day be completely powered by all renewable and less destructive sources? Sometimes we lose touch with our humanity and forget that weare part of a larger ecosystem, a system we have neglected for far too long. So, congratulations, Mr. Beck, and thank you. Thank you, Eric Messer and Doug Hertz, and everyone else at Sunrise Solar for what you do. Thank you for making an effort to make the world a healthier place and for making our existence more sustainable. And to Club Fit members, thank you for your support for this amazing endeavor. We’ll see you soon!  


References  

Millstein, D., Wiser, R., Bolinger, M., & Barbose, G. (2017). The climate and air quality benefits of wind and solar power in the United States. Nature Energy.  

Rabaua, M. K., Abdelkareem, M. A., Sayed, E. T., Elsaid, K., Chae, K.-J., Wilberforce, T., & Olabi, A. G. (2021). Environmental impacts of colar energy systems: A review. Science of Total Environment, 1-19.  

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About the Author: Sarah Sowards