Going Solar Presentation in Chatham’s Sanger Hall

Author: Iyanna Armwood

Chatham University’s Director of Sustainability, Mary Whitney, hosted Solarize Allegheny and Sound Home Plan to give a presentation in Chatham’s Sanger Lecture Hall on Thursday, January 26, on the benefits of solar power and energy efficiency. Solarize Allegheny is a nonprofit project whose goal is to make the process of going solar straightforward and affordable. Sound Home Plan is also a nonprofit program of Conservation Consultants that follows homeowners through the path of making cost-effective home improvements to make it more energy efficient.

By the year of 2025, Chatham aims to use zero net energy. According to Whitney, Chatham went from using 14 tons of net energy to currently 5 tons. Chatham has not quite met the goal yet and looks to Solarize Allegheny and Sound Home Plan for possible ways to reach there hence the presentation. Homeowners from Allegheny County also joined to look at possible investment.

Sharon Pillar from Solarize Allegheny shared the benefits of going solar such as decreasing home owning cost and inspiring environmental action. “Solar Makes Sense,” Pillar explained as she laid out the negative health impacts of burning fossil fuels for electricity. Pillar even provided a graph as evidence that clean power is starting to pass fossil fuel as a main source of power in 2016.

Many people were concerned about solar power in Western Pennsylvania as this is not an area famous for its sunshine. Pillar insisted that even a sunless country like Germany is the leading solar nation and Germany gets as much sun as Alaska. By adding an extra panel or two, homes in Western PA can produce as much energy as a home in Arizona. Solarize Allegheny will come and do a shade and roof analysis to make sure the home is fit for solar. After installment, the homeowner is only paying bills in kilowatt hours which the homeowner can see the significant savings. Investment in solar energy is approximately $14,000 give or take and it’ll last up to 25 years.

Catherine Casey from CCI wrapped up the presentation by explaining the Sound Home Plan. The Sound Home Plan comes to do several screenings of the house as an energy audit including led, building installation and mold. After finding anything that could be improved in order to make the house more safe and energy prevent, the Sound Home Plan will give an estimated cost for repairs. If the homeowner wants to go with any changes, there will be a referral to the perfect contractor for upgrades.

There are shockingly several companies in the Pittsburgh area that use solar energy. One example is Bakery Square’s own Google building. The roof has a few solar panels on it. Other big companies like Target, Walmart and Apple also use solar power. Going solar is becoming a huge investment for many people in the U.S.      

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