The Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center of Atlantic County is going green this summer.
Work began on a new $800,000 rooftop solar panel system on June 10 at the Margate, New Jersey, facility and is expected to wrap up sometime in the fall.
The solar panels will cut both costs and carbon emissions for the center, according to Chief Financial Officer John Rios. He said offers to install rooftop solar have come in nonstop from companies in his five years on the job. But after crunching the numbers and accounting for an aging roof, the decision was finally made to hire National Energy Partners to move forward with replacing the roof and installing the panels.
“It’s kind of funny: When you start putting forklifts and bricks and panels in your parking lot, everybody starts asking [questions],” Rios said. “The timing couldn’t be worse for us [with people] going down the shore, taking up parking spots now that everybody is here, but they’re encouraging and proud of us for taking the lead on things like this.”
There will be 943 solar panels mounted on the building’s roof. They are projected to generate 452,196 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, which will account for 42% of the center’s power needs for the next 20 years.
The solar panels are expected to produce enough energy throughout their lifetime to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 7,994 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of 2,788 tons of waste being recycled instead of placed in a landfill, 1,697 passenger vehicles driven for one year, 8,739,545 pounds of coal burned, 899,547 gallons of gasoline consumed or growing 132,187 tree seedlings for 10 years.
National Energy Partners was selected out of six companies who made proposals. CEO Jeremy Conner said the scope of the project is fairly consistent with others the company has completed. While they’ve approached other JCCs in the area since the company’s founding a decade ago, this is the first to accept their offer.
“It’s great that the JCC in Margate is going to use solar energy to power their buildings,” Conner said. “It’s definitely becoming more and more common, especially in New Jersey, because of the incentives that are available. We’ve done a lot of school districts, a lot of nonprofits, townships. So [many] are going solar now to reduce their costs.”
The company plans to install a kiosk in the lobby with a flat-screen TV showing how less carbon dioxide is being produced and how much energy the panels are generating on an hourly, daily and annual basis to help visitors understand the impact. In addition, an open house is planned from 2-5 p.m. on Aug. 9 to showcase the system and educate visitors.
The JCC also plans to continue to go green, upgrading 24 aging air conditioning units with more efficient technology, replacing lighting with more energy-efficient light bulbs and adding bike racks.
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