Nonprofit goes solar to make a difference and catches the media’s attention
Project Open Hand, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing nutritional needs to people living with HIV/AIDS, the homebound critically ill, and seniors, was looking for a way to reduce their impact on the environment while also reducing their operating costs. As staff members use a large amount of hot water to prepare thousands of meals daily, a solar hot water system seemed a great fit for the organization’s goals.
After receiving a grant from PG&E, Project Open Hand selected Luminalt to install their new 40 collector solar hot water system in two phases. “We have a lot of people on our roof, especially people experienced in trades and each one has been impressed with Luminalt’s high quality work and attention to detail. They did an excellent job.” says Steve Hunter of Project Open Hand.
Since Luminalt installed the system, POH has seen their energy usage for hot water decrease by 40-50%. The solar hot water system provides so much heat, some days the back-up hot water heater doesn’t even turn on.
In addition to these anticipated effects, the media attention that the organization received from having solar introduced Project Open Hand and their mission to a wider audience and increased their donor base. Mayor Gavin Newsom selected Project Open Hand’s roof twice to unveil municipal solar programs and Project Open Hand has been featured on a national TV program for their dedication to green initiatives. Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA, hosted a press conference with Luminalt on the roof of Project Open Hand to highlight the importance of environmental justice and Luminalt’s involvement in workforce development programs. In addition to the solar systems, Project Open Hand was awarded “Recycler of the Year” two years in a row for recycling 72% of what comes into the building.
Impressed by the quality and service Luminalt provided, Project Open Hand and Luminalt recently partnered to install an expansion of the existing solar electric system. You can read more about Project Open Hand’s Green Solutions Initiative, and how Luminalt’s solar installations fit in with their broader goals for sustainability. The San Francisco Department of the Environment has a case study that looks at how the solar hot water system Luminalt installed at Project Open Hand is helping them carry out their mission to deliver meals to those with life-threatening illnesses. By using solar, Project Open Hand is able to save a significant amount each year off of their energy bills – beyond the environmental benefits, these savings translate directly into more money for their work in the community.
Says Steve Hunter, “for us, the solar system and other green initiatives not only provide a great savings in operating costs, they have introduced us to a wider audience of donors and volunteers. It’s like our own green halo.”