Help Solar One Win $25K for K-12 Education

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ONLY A FEW MORE DAYS LEFT TO VOTE FOR SOLAR ONE TO WIN A $25,000 GRANT FOR ITS K-12 EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Do you like ice cream, fast cars and environmental education? It’s not that often that these three things come together, but when they do, it can only mean one thing: The Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope Challenge is on!
 
Solar One is one of the 10 semi-finalists eligible for a $25,000 grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, and the only one based in New York. In all, five grants are available through the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program. A public vote will take place April 17 through 24 to determine the five grant winners. Solar One needs YOU to go to www.helmetofhope.org to show your support by voting before April 24th!
 
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This grant would support Solar One’s Green Design Lab™ (GDL), the only curricular blueprint of its kind that looks at the school building as both a laboratory for learning and a tool for environmental action. In addition to the grant, Solar One will receive special recognition on Johnson’s race helmet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race on July 27th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To date, the Blue Bunny Helmet program has contributed more than $560,000 to 71 different charities. How cool is that?!
 
For additional information and to vote for Solar One, visit www.helmetofhope.org.
 
Voting Instructions:

• Voting will be live for one (1) week.

• The poll will open by 12:01am ET on Thursday, April 17th and will close at 11:59pm ET on Thursday, April 24th.

• Votes will only be accepted at www.helmetofhope.org

• Individuals can vote more than once, so vote as often as you can until midnight on April 24th!
 
Thanks for your support! We can’t do it without you!
 

Solar One at the National Science Teacher’s Association Conference

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Last week at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual conference In Boston, Solar One introduced the Green Design Lab National Network.  Through curriculum, technical support, online webinars and more the National Network will expand the reach of the Green Design Lab (GDL) program to schools beyond New York City public schools.  Hundreds of science teachers from across the country were introduced to the program and intrigued by the potential to incorporate hands on sustainability projects into their science units.
 
Despite presenting at the same time as Bill Nye the Science Guy, dozens of teachers came to the Solar One presentation to learn more about the program.  During the session, teachers engaged in activities and discussion that will help make their schools more sustainable.  The teachers enjoyed the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities. One teacher said, “It was the best thing I did at the conference all day.”  In addition to the presentation, hundreds of teachers came to visit the Solar One booth.  It was great to meet people from all over the country interested in incorporating sustainability into science education.  We hope the momentum will continue and GDL will empower sustainability education nationwide.
 

Join Us for the First Volunteer Day in Stuy Cove Park

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New Yorkers, when do you get the chance to get your hands dirty? Hardly ever, that’s when! Come volunteer at Stuy Cove on 3/29!
 
Stuyvesant Cove Park is holding its first volunteer day of 2014 this weekend, on March 29th from 9am to noon. Volunteers make a huge difference in our ability to get stuff done- we need you! The tasks of weeding, mulching and planting are bigger than our small staff can manage, and so we look to our community to help us with these projects. In return, you get to spend some time outside, hone your gardening skills, learn about native plants, hang out with our wonderful and dedicated crew of volunteers, and last but not least, eat a free pizza lunch.
 
Don’t worry if you have little experience gardening, our Park Manager, Daisy Hoyt, will show you how it’s done. Just come wearing weather-appropriate clothes and sturdy shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. On the agenda is cutting back last year’s dead growth to make room for this year’s new shoots, fertilizing and pruning. Old growth, such as tufts of grass and flower stalks, are left up all winter, providing something for park goers to look at as well as food and shelter for birds. It may not feel like spring today, but you’d better believe it’s on its way! Things will be soon be growing quickly, and we must make room.
 
Please RSVP to daisy[at]solar1[dot]org, and feel free to also get in touch with any questions. Rain date will be Saturday, April 5th. Hope to see you there!
 

Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge Will Help the Caribbean Switch to Renewables

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Island nations are at particular risk from climate change, for fairly obvious reasons: Rising sea levels could obliterate whole nations over the next century. Many of them, particularly in the Caribbean, rely on diesel-powered gird electricity that must be imported at great expense- some countries pay up to $.55 per kWh (compared to NYC, where electricity rates generally stay at least a few cents under $.25/kWh).
 
The Carbon War Room (CWR) and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) thought that it might be possible to do better by harnessing investors, environmental consultants and island governments to broker commitments and create plans to switch from diesel to renewable power.
 
Earlier this month at Necker Island, CWR and RMI held a summit to announce that six islands have agreed to sign on. The Ten Island Challenge proposes signing up ten island nations before the end of 2014; currently, St. Lucia, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Colombia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis and Turks & Caicos have made commitments (Aruba has already committed as well). Future endeavors under consideration include hospitals, schools, sustainable hotels and sustainable agriculture, as well as grid and distributed electricity projects. Sir Richard Branson, who co-founded the Carbon War Room, has offered Necker, his private island, as a test site for renewable technology.
 
The potential for renewables in the Caribbean is impressive. With average wind speeds of 16 knots and great offshore wind assets, plenty of sun (obviously) and even geothermal options for some islands, there is a wealth of clean, domestic energy that has barely begun to be exploited.
 
Solar One spoke with Bill Browning, co-founder of Terrapin Bright Green (and one of our Board members), who was at the Necker Island Summit, and here are some of the projects under consideration that he told us about:
 

  • Desalination plant and sustainable agriculture hub in the BVI
  • Sustainable fisheries tied to renewable energy systems
  • Solar photovoltaic power plants and wind farms
  • Distributed and grid-tied electricity generation

 
In addition, some governments are particularly interested in sustainable construction and energy security. About $300 million dollars has been committed so far to begin this very ambitious switch. Since many year-round Caribbean residents do not have access to reliable electricity, switching to renewables and investing boldly in sustainability could be an enormous game-changer for the entire region. As goes the Caribbean, so goes the planet? Stay tuned…
 

We’re Number 5!

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New York State has moved up the ranks into the top five states creating solar jobs in the US. Last year we were still in the top 10, but how much sweeter is the top 5?

The Solar Foundation has created this great interactive map that shows 2013 solar job growth by state for the whole company. And while New York is still lagging behind CA, AZ, NJ and MA, we’re coming up! And we beat Texas!

Solarize Brooklyn in the News, with Video

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The Ditmas Park Corner has a really nice article about Solarize Brooklyn and how it’s helping 23 central Brooklyn homeowners install rooftop solar pv systems that will help make their neighborhood more resilient, improve air quality and reduce the load on the electric grid, especially during peak loads.
 
Here’s the Solarize Brooklyn video, for your viewing pleasure:
 

 
We hope to kickoff more Community Solar projects in the comign months, please stay tuned!
 

2014 State of the State Puts New York on a Clear Path to Energy Independence

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On January 8 in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2014 State of the State address. While the broadcast version of the address focused on tax relief, affordable housing and airport renovations, the print version of the address has a section with some very welcome and ambitious plans for energy independence for New York- not by focusing on hydraulic fracturing (more commonly known as fracking) but by increasing the amount of decentralized electricity generation. In other words, community solar, where neighbors band together to buy or lease systems together, lowering their initial costs and creating a neighborhood microgrid that can help restore power during blackouts and superstorms.

The relevant section on solar begins on page 70, and here’s a sample of what’s in store for community solar in NY in 2014:

“As the next phase of NY-SUN, Governor Cuomo will establish Community Solar NY: a comprehensive community solar package to address these issues and make solar energy available to all New Yorkers that want it. This initiative will include “K-Solar,” a program to provide incentives, financing, and technical assistance to school administrators interested in reducing energy costs and creating healthier environments for students through on-site solar installations.”

The K-Solar program sounds like a perfect complement to the Green Design Lab. And of course, Solar One launched its first community solar initiative in 2013, called Solarize Brooklyn. And while this project is now in the design and installation phase, please check back to find out where we’ll be Solarizing next. You can read all about it here!

Bandwagon and HOP Lane Help You Get Where You’re Going, Faster and Greener

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In 2012, 25.7 million people traveled through LaGuardia airport, many of them to or from other points in the city. We’re justifiably reknowned for our lack of private cars compared with the rest of the country, and while we have a public transportation system that’s the envy of the world, it’s a bit inelegant when it comes to getting to and from the airports. And we’ve all waited in long lines after a long flight to try and catch a cab- us and 200 other single riders. It’s expensive, it’s inefficient, it’s resource-intensive…there must be a better way!
 
And now there is: Bandwagon is a rideshare app that helps riders save money by carpooling via car service or taxi with another rider going in the same direction, or to the same destination. All you have to do is sign up and start sharing!
 
You can also take advantage of Bandwagon’s HOP Lane at the airport. The HOP Lane is a high-occupancy taxi lane that works with the taxis already in the line as well as the line manager to match you with another customer going to a destination near yours or along your route. The HOP lane saves time, money AND energy- a pretty cool triple bottom line after a holiday’s worth of eating, drinking and socializing.
 

Freshkills to Big Solar

 

The Big Apple knows how to do big. Freshkills Park in Staten Island, formerly the world’s largest landfill, is slowly but surely being transformed into New York City’s largest park. It will provide reaction and aesthetic value, but the new park will also become the city’s largest solar farm.

 

47 of Freshkills Park’s 2,200 acres are slated for solarization, as the land has been leased for 20 years by SunEdison, a California based solar power plant operator and energy provider. When the installation is complete,the  electricity from SunEdison’s panels will channel into the city’s ConEdison electrical grid, and the site has the potential to generate 10 megawatts of power, or the amount needed to power around 2,000 homes. Freshkills Park also has the capacity to boost New York City’s renewable energy generation by a whopping 50%.

 

 

The Staten Island based park and facility is scheduled to begin solar panel installation in 2015, with a fully operational plant by 2016. It represents major urban environmental efforts by Mayor Bloomberg, who stated at the park in November that Freshkills would be “the largest solar power installation ever developed within the five boroughs.” He reflected on the past twelve years progress, notably wetlands and vegetation restoration, in addition to a number of recreational parks and soccer fields that border the site’s perimeter.

 

Bloomberg proudly stated that “Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase of urban renewable and sustainability.” The conversion of the park will bring the City’s total parklands to 30,000 acres- truly astonishing when you take into consideration that the area is larger than the city of San Francisco.

 

 

While New York is taking great strides to adopt green energy, the Mayor cautions, “if we are serious about meeting New York City’s tremendous energy needs from renewable sources, we need the State and Federal governments, as well as our utility partners and others in the private sector to work with us to make solar and other renewable energies easier to develop, install, and access the energy grid.”