Turn Your Church Into a Climate Change Fighting Machine with Community Solar

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Did you know you know that churches in the New York metropolitan area can make a HUGE difference for the environment by switching to community solar? It turns out that churches and places of worship count as residences in NYC. By switching to community solar, your house of worship can save not just 10% on its energy bill every month, but also fuel the renewable energy revolution and lower emissions to fight for #climatejustice

Read more on community solar by John Oppermann, Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative & Green Real Estate Specialist for Green Real Estate NYC.


Every spring we hear the same question again and again from individuals around the world:  "What's one thing I can do to help the environment?"  Earth Day is one day a year when people take their own environmental pulse.  They take a moment to assess their own impact and make changes small and large to green their lifestyles.  

Every spring we hear the same question again and again from individuals around the world:  ‘What’s one thing I can do to help the environment?’
— John Oppermann, Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative & Green Real Estate Specialist with Green Real Estate NYC

People are clamoring to do good.  But often they are very confused about how to go about doing so.  They see lists of a hundred ways they can green their lifestyle and they are overwhelmed by the options so they put it off until another day and wind up not acting at all.  So after getting the same question again and again, "What's one thing I can do?" we're providing a simple answer.

We began the Do Just 1 Thing campaign by taking a look at simple actions that lie at the intersection of convenience and impact.  We narrowed things down to empower people to take their electricity supply into their own hands.  

There are few things that people feel less control over than their electricity supply.  People get electricity through the grid and have little understanding of who supplies that power and how it's being generated.  Unless you live in a single-family home and are willing to pay upfront costs to install solar panels on your home, most people believe they have no power to influence where their power comes from.  While most people aren't going to go off-grid, fortunately several relatively recent trends in the electricity market allow people to influence their own electricity supply and support a transition to renewable energy.  

A very exciting development in the electricity industry is the rise of the community solar model.  Solar projects across the country allow households from the nearby community to buy into the project by leasing solar panels in proportion to their own household’s electricity usage.  Then the utility will pay that household for the electricity generated by their solar panels.  In some cases this means that you save money at the same time that you’re supporting the development of a brand new solar farm.  Through our partners, we have supported the development of rooftop solar farms in Queens and the Bronx.  New York City is a particularly exciting market for community solar as it is a high-ambition, low-ability market for renewable energy:  so many people would love to help transition the country to renewable energy but the fact that so many people live in multifamily apartment buildings or rent means that they have little capacity to actually install solar energy generation at home. 

In some cases this means that you save money at the same time that you’re supporting the development of a brand new solar farm.

Our Do Just 1 Thing has partners operating in each of these three areas and connects individuals to what might be right for them wherever they live.  We’ve found that people are ready to act.  We just have to empower them to do so.

John Oppermann

John is Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative.  John manages the breadth of Earth Day Initiative's activities, from its annual Earth Day events to its year-round programs, which include a classroom gardens program and a sustainable food toolkit aimed at high school students.  Prior to joining Earth Day Initiative, John worked in both corporate law and energy and climate change policy.  He has experience coordinating and researching projects focused on the national electricity grid, renewable energy legislation, and international conservation regulation.  He has published his work on Latin America’s role in global deforestation talks.  He is also a licensed real estate broker who focuses on green residential real estate options.  John graduated with a B.S. in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.