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.