GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic and Constellation volunteers worked side-by-side to install 300 solar panels on St. Ambrose’s Aigburth Vale Senior Community.

We’ve been fishing for stories that spotlight Baltimore’s sustainability partnerships that bring together teams from public, private and nonprofit sectors. From Civic Works’ solar job training to cleaning up the Inner Harbor, many partnerships are making Baltimore better.

On the St. Ambrose Aigburth Vale Senior Community’s rooftop in Towson last week, yet another great partnership was at work. It was there that Maryland Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, Constellation solar volunteers and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic solar trainees gathered to outfit the building with a sustainable supply of energy.

Home for about 70 seniors living on limited incomes, the St. Ambrose Aigburth Vale Senior Community is a beautiful building built in 1868. In 1999, it was converted to affordable senior residences by the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.

Older buildings are often energy hogs with big electricity bills. For years, St. Ambrose has been chipping away at energy efficiency projects. However, a recent major building remodel offered the chance for a huge leap in energy efficiency: Installing 340 solar panels on the structure’s sunny and flat rooftop.

“Solar provides two distinct benefits: financial and environmental,” said Bill Rubin, St. Ambrose’s director of rental services. “From a financial perspective, the building’s locally generated solar electricity generates income in one form or another to the project. For our environment, our large 77-kilowatt solar array will produce clean energy that will reduce the carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere.”

The solar system’s ongoing financial savings will help St. Ambrose provide its 70 residents with new kitchens, handicap-accessible bathrooms and more efficient HVAC units. St. Ambrose residents pay their own utility bills, energy efficiency savings add up.

Beyond Savings, It’s About Jobs

Did you know that entry-level solar installers start at $20 to $24 per hour?

A shining story in the fast-growing renewable energy sector is strong job growth. GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic and Constellation, both partners on this St. Ambrose solar project, are providing the labor needed to install the 300 solar panels.

GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit located in 10 states that offers underserved communities access to solar energy. GRID’s unique workforce training model was in action on the Aigburth Vale Senior Community roof top. GRID has helped over 30,000 job-seekers gain the training and employment skills needed to transition to solar careers. 

Constellation, one of Maryland’s largest solar generators and operators, helped provide project financing, as well as volunteer labor. Members of Constellation’s Distributed Energy team, the experts that install complicated solar projects nationwide, are working side-by-side with GRID Alternatives’ solar volunteers. On-the-job training, building community and the potential for future job opportunities are hallmarks of these successful sustainability partnerships.

Considering Solar on Your Roof?

If you’re interested in installing solar on your abode, check out MD SUN’s Baltimore Solar co-op. Its mission is to gather a large group of Baltimore City and Baltimore County homeowners to join solar forces and bid together. Co-op members benefit with bulk purchase pricing, plus the added peace of mind of having independent expert support. The nonprofit MD SUN offers independent expertise that ensures each member’s install goes smoothly, from site visit to turning-on-the-solar-switch.

Rep. John Sarbanes was on hand to congratulate St. Ambrose, Constellation and GRID Alternatives on their partnership.
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel Peltier writes the environment GreenLaurel column every Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.

One reply on “GreenLaurel: Big Towson Solar Install is Win For Seniors, Job Seekers and Climate”

  1. Wonderful project – for the environment, for the residents, and for the students who are getting valuable practical job training!

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