Cost, Implementation and Funding

  • Cost of rooftop solar photo-voltaic project: $115,000
  • Contractor: YellowLite, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Structural engineering contractor: Atlantic Engineering Services of Pittsburgh
  • Solar advisor: Phipps Consulting of Pittsburgh
  • Roof replacement prior to solar installation: $125,157 contract to Burns & Scalo of Pittsburgh
  • Funding: $125,000 grant from Allegheny County’s Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) for the solar portion of the project; and $102,000 raised from Beth Shalom’s membership and the balance from the Congregation’s operating budget to replace the roofs supporting the solar arrays and complete the Project.
  • Total cost: $240,157 (solar and rooftop replacement)

System, Energy Production and Environmental Effects

  • System: 140 400-Watt Hanwha QCELLS solar panels with 129 solar panels on a large upper roof and 11 panels on a small lower roof. The total size of the two roofs on which solar was installed is approximately 9,600 square feet.
  • Energy Production: The 56kW system is estimated to produce 53,300 kilowatt-hours of energy in the first year of operation providing at least 8% of Beth Shalom’s annual electricity needs.
  • Environmental Effects: The 56kW system is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 36 tons annually, or 900 tons over the next 25 years. Substituting clean solar energy for fossil fuels will also keep tons of nitrogen oxides (which create smog), sulfur-dioxide (which causes acid rain) and particulates (that cause asthma) out of the atmosphere.

Project Goals

  • Install a solar array that will provide the Congregation with clean renewable electricity.
  • Reduce operating expenses, mitigate the impact of future electricity price increases.
  • Position our non-profit religious institution as a regional role model and leader in climate change mitigation.
  • Visible symbol of Beth Shalom’s commitment to the environment that demonstrates Jewish values such as tikkun olam (repair the world).
  • Replace the leaking roof over our preschool building.

Spin-off Benefits

Congregation Beth Shalom’s 4-year energy conservation effort that included the effort to install the photo-voltaic solar collection system to our facility has also led to several spin-off benefits.  They include:

  • Replaced approximately 1,000 incandescent bulbs to LED lighting throughout our building complex.
  • Reduced the Congregation’s costs to buy electricity by joining the City of Pittsburgh’s bulk energy purchasing consortium.
  • Formed a “green committee” to promote other sustainability practices within the Congregation (e.g., recycling, reduction of paper and plastic waste).
  • Increased pride in belonging to the Beth Shalom kehillah (community) among our members, staff, supporters, and community partners.

The Future

We also plan to share with area schools the website that YellowLite, our solar installation company, will create to display real-time data on electricity production, greenhouse gasses offset, etc. from our solar array that they can incorporate into their STEM curricula.  We will also display the website in a prominent location on our Congregation’s website to share with our members and the public who may also be interested in installing solar panels on their home or businesses. 

Finally, Beth Shalom looks forward to continue to share the knowledge and experiences we gained through our efforts to add solar with other non-profit organizations.