Easter Seals Blake Foundation

Easter Seals Blake Foundation Solar in Tucson Easter Seals Blake Foundation now has a 346 kW system, which covers over 100 parking spaces, to power the Foundation’s 50,000 square foot campus. The steel structures provide shade for a large portion of the parking lot and incorporate high-efficiency solar panels made by industry-leader SunPower®. Notably, using these high-efficiency SunPower®panels allowed TFS to design a system that will deliver over 30 percent more energy than conventional panels would allow at this site.

Easter Seals Blake Foundation CEO Ema Kammeyer said, “Technicians For Sustainability have a vast comprehension of this technology, yet they convey it seamlessly to non-tech audiences. They really made it accessible and understandable for our board to have complete confidence in moving forward with this installation. True professionals.”

ESBF CEO Ema Kammeyer and friend at the Solar CelebrationWhile cost has long been perceived as a barrier to “going green”, TFS assisted the Easter Seals Blake Foundation in securing financing for the project that, due in part to federal and TEP incentives, will have no upfront costs to the organization. Also, the Foundation reports it anticipates that after eleven years the cost of electricity at the campus will be virtually nothing, with a projected $600,000 - $1,000,000 in savings over the next twenty years alone. The savings would be enough to offset state budget cuts and provide 50 working poor families, every year, with tuition Easter Seals Blake Foundation Solar Nonprofit in Tucsonassistance to its nationally accredited childcare program.




In addition to the financial benefits, the move to solar reinforces Easter Seals Blake Foundation’s organization-wide mindset of environmental accountability.

"Tucson will be a better place to live because of the forward looking vision of organizations like Easter Seals Blake Foundation,” said TFS President, Kevin Koch. “Not only are they lowering their operating costs for the long term, enabling them to serve the community more effectively, but they are building a cleaner future for our community by producing their electricity with solar energy.”

ESBF founder Ema Kammeyer shows off the "ESBF has gone solar!" shirtsEaster Seals Blake Foundation gets its power from the sun!

The sun sets in TucsonPeople gather at ESBF too celebrate their new solar production!

Bookmans Sports Exchange

Bookmans Sports Exchange has gone solar!Bookmans Sports Exchange, the latest addition to the Bookman’s resale stores family has gone solar!  TFS custom designed, installed and configured the 49.7 kW solar electric system in coordination with Bookmans’ complete remodel of the space. In addition to providing much-needed shade for the building’s south entrance and 13 adjacent parking spaces, the steel structure incorporates high-efficiency solar panels made by industry-leader SunPower.  Notably, using these high-efficiency SunPower®panels allowed TFS to design a system that will deliver over 30 percent more energy than conventional panels. With their motto “Good for your pocket, good for the planet”, Bookmans strives to be environmentally conscious in all their stores – making electric vehicle chargers available to the public, implementing energy management systems for their The solar shade structure helps keep customer's cars (and bikes) cool.  HVAC, and using environmentally friendly products wherever possible. The construction of the new Speedway and Country Club location enabled Bookmans to go to the next level, using energy-efficient T5 lighting, repurposed materials and water sensors in the restrooms.

“We've been talking about viable ways to add solar to one of our facilities for years because we believe in Tucson it is the right thing to do,” said Bookmans president Sean Feeney.  “Our new Bookmans Sports Exchange store provided the perfect opportunity. And with TFS as an amazing partner in the process, we couldn't pass it up.”

The power provided by the parking structure – Bookmans’ first solar project – will help offset the electrical needs of the store and the car chargers. The system also includes a data monitoring display located on top of the drink cooler behind the cashier counter which shows staff and customers how much energy the system is producing at any given time, and historically. Over $120,000 in savings is projected over twenty years.20130823_123329_web

TFS’s own Kevin Koch said, “We applaud Bookmans for choosing to make solar a priority at their new facility and we are especially honored that they chose to work with us to help them provide renewable energy and financial savings to the store.”

Country Fair White Elephant

The Roof at Country Fair, White ElephantEstablished in 1964, Country Fair White Elephant is a nonprofit started by several volunteers whose main mission was and is to support their community.  Since its founding, hundreds of volunteers have joined the ranks to process gently used goods for re-sale.  Since the organization is run mostly by volunteers with 4 paid staff, only a small portion of their revenue is dedicated for office expenses like electricity and supplies.  The rest is donated to local schools and charitable service organizations in the greater Green Valley area. Country Fair White Elephant made the switch to solar in early 2012 in order to further reduce their costs, increase their donations and "go green".  The solar system is 129.36 kW and will produce at least 17,442 kWh each month.  Their system is comprised of 420 solar panels sitting on the roof, generating electricity and a grid-tied inverter with data monitoring.  It was sized to produce 57-65% of the total electricity used on site. A view of the Santa Rita Mountains

The solar gives Country Fair White Elephant significant financial savings.  Each month they will save $2,125 off their utility bill and will have the added benefit of being protected from future escalating electricity costs.  The money saved will allow them to increase the amount set aside for donations and their 4-year college scholarship program which helps local high school students.

Each month the solar system on the roof helps the nonprofit prevent 17,400 lbs of coal from being burned.  It also saves 38,800 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2), 175 lbs of other green house gases and at least 8,700 gallons of water from being consumed in traditional energy production each month.   Apart from solar, the Country Fair White Elephant is dedicated to being environmentally friendly by supporting recycling programs and by having a goal to put as little in the landfill as possible.

Country Fair, White Elephant is busy!


Store volunteers have noticed a change in their community since the White Elephant solar system was installed.  "More and more people are going solar" says Jim Fitzsimmons, a long time volunteer and key player for helping the nonprofit go solar.  Already, at least a dozen volunteers have solar on their homes and now the solar bug is infecting the rest of the community.


Benedictine Sanctuary

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are dedicated to following Christ through the teachings of St. Benedict, a monk who lived 1500 years ago and who valued every object as a gift from God.  St. Benedict taught respect for all things because everything is reflective of God.  The environment is considered sacred in this same way and the Sisters have long been dedicated to it. Before installing solar electricity, the Sisters had already taken several important steps to conserve resources.  Five years ago they installed solar to provide hot water for the laundry, and scarcely a year before they installed rainwater harvesting in a courtyard to water fruit trees.  Besides that, their monastery was initially designed 73 years ago to incorporate a partial greywater system.

Even before getting their new solar energy system, the Sisters were actively trying to reduce the amount of electricity they used.  One way to do this was by changing out all the light bulbs within the monastery to efficient fluorescent and LED lights 3 years ago.   They received funding through TEP's subsidy for efficient lighting and worked at the project, "light bulb by light bulb."  They had initially thought photovoltaic (PV) solar would be out of reach financially until Hank Krzysik, a Tucson architect and member of their building advisory committee told them about the different options available to non-profits.

Photos provided by the Benedictine SistersAs it turns out, solar was a great option for the Sisters.  Through a lease program, they are able to pay the same amount each month they would normally spend for conventionally produced electricity on their new solar system.  The nuns are now protected from escalating electricity costs and even have the option to purchase the system outright a few of years down the line.  Sr. Joan says, "Why not use renewable energy if you can afford it? It's a no-brainer!  Solar is more ancient than the earth: it's available and we should harvest it if it's possible."

The solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Benedictine Sanctuary is 153 kilowatts (kW) of installed solar power, and produces on average 22,300 kW hours each month.  The system was designed to produce 85% of the total electrical needs of the Sanctuary, but as the Sisters work to reduce their energy usage and adopt more energy efficient appliances, it will produce even more of the energy they use.

Photos provided by the Benedictine Sisters

The main ministry of the Sisters is prayer and fostering prayer among all who visit.  In this light, the Benedictine Chapel is open to visitors all day, every day.  The Sisters provide for themselves by running  a gift shop, making liturgical vestments, publishing a magazine and making “Prayerfully Popped” pop corn which they sell at Tucson Padre Games, other community events and at their retail shop at Speedway and Wilmot.

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration know the true meaning of green living - by harvesting water and growing their own food, by operating businesses that they believe in and by using the power of the sun to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels they are able to live sustainably and preserve God's creation.

The sisters bless the solar panels

Old Pueblo Gym

Old Pueblo Gymnasium, which is dedicated to getting children excited about physical activity, has a new 34.8 kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system.  The solar photovoltaic (PV) system which is made up of 160 Schott Poly 240 watt modules will produce 64,140 kWh each month, enough electricity to cover 90% of the gymnasium’s usage, offer the gym substantial financial savings and help them protect the environment. One of the main motivators for converting the gym to solar power was the financial savings the gym would see.  Old Pueblo’s solar system will offer a four-year payback with a rate of return of 11%.  Each month they will save approximately $652 in utility costs, and over the first 20 years, the business is expected to save over $145,000.

In addition to the utility savings each month, the Gym also benefited from a performance based incentive which helped pay for 32% of the system through TEP’s SunShare program, which supports both home and business owners who wish to go solar in Tucson.  An additional 30% of the cost was covered by the US treasury Solar Grant, which expired last year, and is now available in the form of a tax credit.

According to Randy Sooter, owner and director of Old Pueblo, “the sun is a natural energy source and by using solar we can generate clean power, not to mention when electricity prices increase our solar system is saving us money.  Not everyone has the opportunity to watch the meter run backwards.”

The solar panels on the roof of the gym will also serve as a visible reminder to the children and their parents of the gym’s commitment to sustainability, as well as providing a real-life example that going solar is possible and easy.  As kids do flips and handstands inside, they will be able to experience solar electricity first-hand with the lights, air conditioning and music systems powered by the sun.  The gym has 700 enrolled students with an estimated 100 extra students and party goers each month.

Consistent with offering a nurturing environment in which children can develop a love for physical activity, Old Pueblo Gym is taking this dedication a step further with their new solar system.  The conversion to solar power will prevent 5,046 lbs of coal and 2,523 gallons of water from being burned and consumed each month to produce the electricity needed to power the gym.  The new system will eliminate 11,237 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 50.9 lbs of other green house gasses each month which would otherwise enter the atmosphere due to the traditional electricity generating process.

“I have noticed our clients are appreciative of our choice to supply our energy through solar. Solar has also opened my eyes to other resources to cut down on waste,” says Sooter.  In addition to the solar panels, the gym owners have installed a few extra sustainability measures.  Newly installed hand dryers cut down on paper towel waste while a stringent recycling program and the elimination of disposable water bottle sales helps the planet and the gym cut back on waste.

Pantano Christian Church

Pantano Christian Church chose to install solar on their place of worship in order to significantly reduce their electricity bills for the next few years, and ultimately eliminate them.  The system, which is installed on three separate free standing shade structures, including two parking shade structures and a large shade cover for the playground. Their environmental savings are also significant, allowing them to practice environmental stewardship. FINANCIAL: Pantano Christian Church decided to go solar in order to immediately save money on their electrical bill.  The system was installed with no upfront cost due to the lease they hold.  Now, with a monthly lease payment of $10,798, a monthly performance based incentive (PBI) from Tucson Electric Power (TEP) of $6,720 and $5,561 saved in electrical costs, the church realizes $1,483 in net savings each month.  After 13 years, Pantano Christian Church will own the system outright and begin to see net savings of $12,000 each month.

This solar array provides shade for the kid's playgroundIn addition to the immediate and future savings, the fixed solar payment also insulates the church’s budget.  The same monthly expense allows the church to plan for steady payments instead of fluctuating costs as seasonal electricity use changes.  Since utility costs are estimated to rise steadily 2% each year, the church is also protected from future escalating utility prices.

SHADE: Since more than half of the solar panels are fixed to free standing structures, the parishioners are able to enjoy shade provided by the panels.  Two parking structures provide shade to 80 parking spaces while the third solar shade canopy completely covers the playground and offers protection from the sun and heat in the summer.  This added bonus will increase the quality of the worship and community experience at Pantano Christian Church.

SYSTEM:  The Pantano Christian Church solar system is one of the largest systems installed on a church in the country.  The 342.16 kW DC system consists of 1,456 Serengeti 235 watt modules paired with three SatCon inverters.  Each month the system is estimated to produce between 46,343 and 48,911kW which will cover 90% of the church’s electrical needs.  When the system produces excess electricity, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will give Pantano direct credit, allowing them to roll over extra credits to the next month’s electricity bill.

ENVIRONMENTAL:  The solar system also helps the church practice environmental stewardship by almost entirely eliminating their dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation.   Each month the Pantano solar system will save over 46,343 lbs of coal from being burned and 109,500 lbs of carbon dioxide and other green house gases from being released into the atmosphere.  The system will also ensure that 24,500 gal of water will be saved each month from being used to generate electricity in a coal fired plant.  This is extremely important in the desert where water is such a precious resource.

Pantano Christian Church

St. Francis in the Foothills

St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church proudly adopted solar electricity which now powers their facility, including the church itself and the adjacent International School for Peace preschool.  Their main motivation to install solar power on the church was to uphold their vision statement, which is “to inspire and guide each other to an awakened life by engaging with each other, our community, the Earth and the Divine.” According to Mari Sorri, the Chair of Trustees at St. Francis, the vision statement and the new solar system “reflect in part our deep commitment to the Earth.”  Sustainability is built into their practice as “we believe that the Earth and Nature is a sacred text, like the Bible and other inspired texts.” St. Francis celebrated their newest commitment to God and the environment on July 1st with a blessing ceremony for their solar panels.


 Watch the AZPM piece on the St. Francis solar project here.

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, of the Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church, commended St. Francis, saying, “The use of solar panels to provide nearly all of the church's electrical needs demonstrates true care of God's creation, not to mention a great financial savings for years to come! I am thrilled with the outstanding example that St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church has given all of us.”

St. Francis in the Foothills has long been devoted to sustainable practices.  Not only do they have recycling programs and use efficient appliances, but the campus also practices water harvesting for use in irrigating their predominately native plants landscape.  They also recently installed two Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations through the Federal Government's stimulus program.  These will pull their power from the solar panels, giving EV owners clean electricity and transportation.

St. Francis's solar system is unique because of the beautiful design of the bifacial solar panels that are used to frame the church's entrance.  The panels allow light to filter through the shade structure, and also collect light and energy from both sides.  By using these modules on the canopy, the church is making a statement:  solar is not only useful, it is also beautiful.

Installed by Technicians for Sustainability (TFS), the solar system consists of arrays on many of the Church's complex of buildings, and also a shade canopy across the entrance to the church.  192 high-efficiency SunPower modules are arranged on the roof while 60 Sanyo bifacial panels take center stage on the canopy at the church entrance.  The 70kW system will provide 77% of the facility's electricity, producing approximately 10,500 kWh each month.


The solar system will allow the church to reduce its impacts on the Earth by keeping 25,000 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each month, over 11,000 lbs of coal from being burned and over 5,500 gallons of water being consumed (for electricity production) each month.  Solar is also helping the church save money: over the course of 20 years, the church will see a cumulative savings of $238,000.



St. Francis in the Foothills

St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church

St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church has elevated their connection to nature with a new solar system. Installed on three covered parking structures, this project was made possible by a generous gift from dedicated parishioner Dr. Donna Cosulich. The solar system allows the church to save money and make a public statement about their commitment to being responsible stewards of the world. It will serve as an example to the parishioners that protecting the environment is simple, practical and cost effective. St. Philip's dedication to solar power and the environment is not a new commitment. The St. Philip's Green Team has been investigating and enacting ways for the church to 'green' their image since 2005. The Green Team was founded by Dr. Cosulich who passed away this January after seeing solar become a reality for St. Philip’s. The Green Team’s goal is to “explore the wonder of our world, addressing our roles as citizens and people of faith as we wrestle with potential global climate change." In addition to supporting the new solar system, the Green Team sponsors educational forums on environmental topics, publishes a "green tips" brochure and has many other programs designed to bring attention to ways parishioners can make small changes to 'green' their lives.St. Philip's In The Hills goes solar!

Bruce Plenk, Solar Energy Coordinator for the City of Tucson, said: "It's great to see churches join with the City of Tucson, doctors' offices, veterinarians' offices, bookstores, pizza places, office buildings and many homes in Tucson in going solar. Congratulations to St. Philip's In The Hills, its Green Team and Technicians for Sustainability on the completion of this wonderful solar project."

The financial savings will be immediate for St. Philip’s. The church acquired the project through a lease, leaving them to collect the savings each month. Over the course of 20 years, the church will see over $500,000 in cumulative utility savings.

Designed and installed by Technicians for Sustainability, St. Philip's 160 kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system is estimated to generate 24,000 kWh per month. The system consists of 522 SunPower modules and will provide over 90% of the entire facility's electricity needs, encouraging the church to take further energy saving measures. The system has the added benefit of offering shaded parking to visitors, improving the quality of the St. Philip's experience.

In keeping with their desire to be stewards of the environment, St. Philip’s new solar structures will save 24,100 lbs of coal and 12,050 gallons of water from being used to generate electricity each month. Their new source of electricity also prevents 53,670 lbs of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere each month. According to the Rev. Dr. Tom Lindell the solar array “will keep on giving … not only in a significant savings in electrical costs but also in the long-term benefit to our fragile ecosystem of avoiding putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels.”

Two and a half years after the installation of their solar system, the Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa said, "We are thrilled with the solar project.  It has helped us to be much more responsible stewards of God's creation, make an important statement about our beliefs to the community, and save significantly on our power bills.  Working with [TFS] went very smoothly and we felt good about our relationship."

3 parking structures shade the lot at St. Philip's in the Hills


100% Solar   TriSports.com, Tucson’s very own triathlon, cycling, running and swimming gear shop, is now generating up to 100% of their electricity from solar power.  The 128 kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system consists of two solar arrays mounted on custom built steel shade structures and a third array mounted on their roof.  The panels will produce over 19,000 kWh per month which has the potential to cover all of the electricity the business uses.  TriSports.com is the first triathlon shop to get even close to generating 100% of its electricity from solar power in the United States: they’re winning the race for sustainability. Environmental Savings   The 128 kW solar system saves 18,560 lbs of coal from being burned each month and 41,400 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.  Perhaps most importantly, the TriSports.com solar array will save approximately 9,280 gal of water each month as compared to TriSports.com Solar Poweredtraditional electricity generation. This fact is often overlooked but is extremely significant in the Sonoran Desert where we live.

Sustainability has always been a goal of TriSports.com and solar is just the latest addition to a larger integration of sustainable practices.  Seton Claggett, CEO of TriSports.com, shared this, "Three years ago I told our staff and our vendors that we would be on solar within the next 5 years, and here we are.  This is a large investment for us but it is the right thing to do for our environment, our staff, our customers, our vendors and for our future generations.” TriSports.com has two large rainwater cisterns that collect and store up to 36,000 gallons of water at a time, which is then used to irrigate the landscaping. The company also made the switch to energy efficient lighting with their latest renovations, which significantly reduces their electricity consumption.

Financial Savings  Not only was installing their solar system an environmentally-conscious decision, but it also makes sense from a financial standpoint.  The system will offer a four and a half year payback period, a 10% rate of return, and over the first twenty years the solar system will save the company over $467,000.

Bruce Plenk, the City of Tucson’s Solar Coordinator, congratulates TriSports.com on their new solar system.  "I am impressed with the foresight and leadership of Tucson businesses like TriSports.com who have chosen to be leaders in installing solar using their sunny rooftops as well as their parking areas to generate electricity, reduce our urban heat island and save their business money. This is a wonderful example that I hope other Tucson businesses will see and follow. Thanks to TriSports.com for showing the way to a solar future in our Solar America City!"


KVOA News picked up TriSport's amazing story.  Watch the segment on their website.


Casa Maria Soup Kitchen

The Casa Maria Soup Kitchen won Technicians for Sustainability’s solar grant for 2011 and received a 3.87 kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system.  The system saves the soup kitchen over $70 a month which allows them to reallocate those funds towards offering more services and providing food to more people. The organization was chosen to receive the TFS 2011 solar grant because of their wonderful involvement and unfailing assistance in the Tucson community.  At their Free Kitchen, Casa Maria volunteers serve lunch to 600 single persons, many of whom are homeless and they provide a family food bag to more than 200 families who are on the edge of poverty.  They also have a free Medical Mobile Clinic twice every week, a program for Vaccines for Cats and Dogs, and offer American Citizenship Lessons in Spanish and leadership and Community Organizer Training also in Spanish.

According to Casa Maria volunteer, Jerry Gill, "This solar system gives us an opportunity to extend our commitment to serving the poor with justice and in harmony with the earth. We already participate in recycling day old food donated by various food stores and restaurants, as well as used clothing from different private donors. We also grow some food of our own. Now, not only will we be able to save a considerable sum of money, but we will lessen our carbon footprint at the same time".


Our Mother of Sorrows

The Our Mother of Sorrows Parrish has served the Tucson community for many years.  They strive to provide their parish with good examples by reaching out to those in need and through sharing faith and love with one another and God.  Their dedication has led them to power their facility by the sun. Adding solar power to the sanctuary roof and two solar parking structure arrays allows them to more fully take advantage of God’s gifts.  Anne Marie King, the Our Mother of Sorrows Parish business manager said that they ultimately chose to install solar “to become better, more faithful stewards of God’s creation and to set an example and be a leader for other parishes in the Diocese of Tucson in promoting solar energy.”

The environmental and social benefits to Our Mother of Sorrow’s photovoltaic system are dramatic.  The solar array will offset 425,488 lbs of CO2 annually, and prevent other toxic chemicals from entering the air.  In addition to the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, the facility also has three solar hot water heaters which allow the church to use water heated by the sun.  These systems allow the church to reach its goals by being good stewards and preserving the earth for future generations.  “Solar power is a gift from God to be used wisely to help protect our environment for future generations.”

Watch the AZPM piece on Our Mother of Sorrows Solar Project here.


The parishioners at Our Mother of Sorrows believe that their solar arrays and dedication to the planet is setting a good example.  The solar shading structures are very visible to the community and are helping to encourage other churches and parishioners to make the move to solar power.

The electricity produced by Our Mother of Sorrows’ solar array will be approximately 191,000 kWh annually and this will cover 60% of their total usage.  This offers the church significant energy savings of up to $2,000 a month and the savings can now be put towards other church activities and charities.

Their access to solar was made possible through loans by parishioners who financed the operation.  The church will receive the energy and utility bill savings and will have the opportunity to purchase the system outright in 10 years.  This unique system is allowing churches and nonprofits to make a move towards solar that would have been financially out of reach in the past.

Animal Health Hospital

Animal Health Hospital initially chose to install solar panels at their facility to reduce the business’ environmental footprint, but their switch to solar made economic sense too.  The system will produce 2,919 kWh per month, helping the hospital save $360 a month, in addition to offsetting 76,500 lbs of CO2 annually. "Having solar power has significantly reduced my energy expenditures," says Dr. Kipp Metzger, the director and owner of the Animal Health Hospital.  The solar panels will cover 75-80% of the hospital's electricity needs, saving the business thousands of dollars in utility expenses every year.  "My energy savings will completely pay for the system in about 4.5 years."

While the financial benefits are great, the main reason Dr. Metzger chose to install a solar array on his business was to reduce its impact on the environment.  "I believe strongly that we need to take care of our earth and a huge way that I can do that is to significantly lessen my carbon footprint."  Metzger lives with solar power that covers 100% of his home's electricity needs, and by making his business just as efficient he has taken a huge step in reducing his footprint.

The striking system array is set up on a custom-made steel shading structure that allows the 60 SunPower solar panels to catch the sun’s rays, supply electricity to the hospital and help shade the building.  This last feature is important as the shade provided by the panels helps the building maintain its temperature in the summer, thus reducing its electricity usage, a technique called passive solar.

The solar electric (photovoltaic) panels allow the Animal Health Hospital to get most of its electricity from the sun, so they can continue to focus their energies on helping Tucson’s beloved pets.  “At Animal Health Hospital we understand the impact a pet can have on one’s life. Whether to lounge on the couch with, to play catch with after school or to take on a challenging weekend hike – your pet is a valued family member and we give them the care that they deserve.”

Read more at animalhealthhospital.com

Antigone Books

Antigone Books

Antigone Books, Tucson, AZ 100% Solar

Antigone Books, located on Tucson’s historic 4th Avenue, has become the first bookstore in the country to get 100% of their electricity from solar power. Antigone Books joins only two other businesses in Southern Arizona, in the notable claim of being a 100% solar powered business. Interestingly, all three of these businesses are located on 4th Avenue in downtown Tucson. A commitment to a cleaner environment & sustainability were the primary motivators for Trudy Mills, co-owner of Antigone Books, in converting her popular 4th Avenue business to derive 100% of its electricity from the sun.  “We feared it would be too expensive, but found that it is actually affordable with the help of federal grants and tax credits. And, it pays for itself in a relatively short time.  So, it was a good financial business decision, too.  We'd love to see Arizona lead the country in solar installations,” said Mills.

Antigone's 13.7 kilowatt (kW) grid-connected solar electric system consists of 45 SunPower high-efficiency solar modules, and is expected to generate over 2,059 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. This will reduce monthly greenhouse gas emissions by almost 4,000 pounds and conserve 890 gallons of water normally consumed with traditional electricity generation. Any extra electricity the system generates is sent back to the utility grid, allowing the businesses to receive full credit for any excess electricity production on their following month’s utility bill.

These environmental savings are directly in line with the company's values.  "We believe that global warming and water shortages are very real and very serious problems.  So, our gut reason for doing "green things" stems from that knowledge," says Mills.  In addition to installing the solar electric system, Antigone Books utilizes other green practices in their business, such as energy efficient lighting, a low flow toilet, recycling, discouraging the use of bags and encouraging their employees to bike, walk, bus or carpool to work by offering incentives.  They are even considering putting in a recharging station for electric cars which will be able to drink in energy from the sun while their owners stroll, shop and eat on 4th Ave.

Initially, the owners of Antigone Books thought that putting solar on their roof would not be an option, "We run a business and want to stay in business.  From that angle there were two roadblocks to going solar."  They were worried about the perceived hassle and expense of installing a solar system, "so, it was a happy day when I biked by the TFS booth during Cyclovia.  They explained that they do most of the homework re: cost, rebates, grants, etc.  Once we could see the actual costs, we could begin to decide whether we could afford it."

Antigone Books’ system offers a three year payback, more than a 15% rate of return, and this business is expected to save over $75,386 in utility costs over 25 years. The actions of the owners of Antigone Books illustrate that small business owners, which make up the largest portion of Arizona’s business sector, are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous financial benefits associated with solar energy.

Downtown Tucson wrote an article about the 4th Ave Solar Businesses.  Read what they have to say about Antigone and TFS!

Native Seeds SEARCH

TFS's 2010 grant recipient is Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S). This non-profit organization is based in Tucson. They are committed to conserving the aridlands-adapted heirloom agricultural crops of the Greater Southwest and promoting the crops and agricultural traditions that have evolved with the harsh conditions of this desert region. NS/S has worked hard to make their mission a reality, and as a result, they outgrew their 485 square foot seed bank. Through a capital campaign effort, Native Seeds' has a new 7,000 square foot facility that will be a model of sustainability. In addition to solar power, rainwater harvesting, and use of sustainable building materials (e.g. recycled blue jean insulation), this facility will be home to demonstration gardens, historic orchards, and a community classroom space. According to Byrn Jones, Executive Director of NS/S, "Our [NS/S] goal is to become a showcase in the community for green building." In an effort to help support NS/S's goal to have a facility with as small of a carbon footprint as possible, TFS donated the labor to install a 9.18 kW PV system. This PV system will save the non-profit approximately $1720 in annual operating costs. This system will also help to offset nearly 32,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (a direct contributor to global warming) and save 7,160 gallons of water annually.

KXCI Community Radio

The KXCI community radio station's 5.06kW PV system was installed and commissioned in April 2010 as part of TFS's solar grant program for local nonprofit organizations.

Southside Presbyterian Church

Southside Presbyterian received a new solar hot water system through the TFS solar grant program, which is self-funded through a percentage of our annual profits. The solar hot water system enhances the organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability, green building, and renewable energy.