Friday, September 26, 2008

Kermit The Frog Isn't The Only Green Celebrity

Installing a home solar system is pretty pricey. The estimates for an average 2,500 square foot home which probably requires a 3 to 4 kW system are $25,000 to $36,000. It isn't something many average home owners can upgrade to. Industry wisdom says it's always better to include it in the original design. That's if you can invest in designing and building your own home.

What about someone living in low-income housing? There is a fantastic partnership between the Enterprise Foundation, BP Solar Neighbors and the Environmental Media Association that is worth checking out. It's the brainchild of actor, Edward Norton who, when installing his own system proposed an idea to BP Solar. For every celebrity who joins the BP Solar Neighbors program and purchases a system (every 6kW qualifies) a matching system is donated to a low-income family. The Environmental Media Association's purpose is to link "the power of celebrity to environmental awareness, EMA believes that through television, film and music, the entertainment community can affect change in a positive way. EMA’s work is widespread, from subtle messaging on the screen to promoting sustainable lifestyle choices and educating influential people on the power of “green,” our goal is inspiring the path to a healthier planet."

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Slate.

"Edward Norton: I can't give you a total number of panels. We're getting close to having donated over 100 kW worth of free systems to low-income families. About 50 families have received systems and we've done two large systems on affordable housing rental buildings or homeless SRO projects. This doesn't count the celebrity participation which is probably another 100-200 kW worth."

This is an example any community or any high profile group of people can follow - it isn't just actors and musicians who can create this kind of positive change. What if each community negotiated with a local or national solar company to work out some form of donated system to benefit everyone? What if government buildings, schools, or large chain retailers invested in solar with the promise that their purchase would ensure the installation for a low-income family?

Things to think about.

In the meantime, send us your story. Include your first name, last initial, general locale and what YOUR sustainable choice was today. Make your voice heard; educate and inspire. The effects of your choice will be magnified and made more powerful when you share it with us.

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