Columbus House Goes Solar

Markeshia Ricks PhotoA crane is extended and solar panels are busily being installed just in time for spring at Columbus House.

The shelter for homeless men and women is furthering its efforts to “go green” thanks to a $193,500 grant from the state’s Office of Policy & Management that will allow for the installation of a solar system outfitted with “a 120 photovoltaic module solar panel array.”

That array is going on the roof of the shelter and administrative building at 586 Ella T. Grasso Blvd. It will produce electricity for the shelter and contribute to the commercial electrical grid.

“This is a big deal for Columbus House as we try to maximize every dollar raised so that we can put more to work for those experiencing homelessness,” John B. Brooks, chief development officer for Columbus House, said in an email.

The system is expected to produce about 43,000 solar kilowatt hours a year and meet as much as 13 percent of the electrical needs of Columbus House’s 30,000 square foot facility, according to the press release.

The facility is home to Columbus House’s administrative offices, main shelter, and medical respite rooms. The solar system is expected to save as much as $8,617 in yearly operating costs or about $110,000 over the anticipated 15-year-lifespan of the solar panels, according to the press release.

“This initiative will allow Columbus House to realize renewable energy opportunities, make better energy choices and proactively address the challenges of energy in the marketplace,” Columbus House Chief Real Estate Officer Carl Rodenhizer, said in a release. “It will build upon other
‘green’ initiatives already undertaken, including recycling, reduction of paper usage, composting and consuming locally grown produce.

Rodenhizer noted in the release that a portion of the grant will be used for an LED lighting initiative that is expected to further reduce operating costs “ensuring that more dollars raised by the organization go directly to programs designed to move people experiencing homelessness into housing.”

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