Guest Blog: Powering our Communities with the Sun

What can we do about climate change? This is the question that keeps so many of us up at night.
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What can we do about climate change? This is the question that keeps so many of us up at night.
Despite the lack of leadership from our elected officials, we can take meaningful action as individuals and as communities. According to Paul Hawken’s new book, Drawdown, that compiles the most effective ways to reduce global warming, there’s one strategy near the top of the list that everyone can do: eat lower on the food chain. Since we get to choose what we put in our bodies three times a day, eating a plant-based diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
Helping society quickly switch off fossil fuels to run on clean energy is another important piece of the puzzle. In addition to reducing our carbon footprint with what we eat, how can we actively partake in the renewable energy revolution? Going solar at home has a huge impact on your electric bill and reducing climate change. Unfortunately a lot of people that would like to go solar can’t. Are you a renter? Is your roof shaded by trees or not facing the right direction?
The good news is people are banding together to make clean energy happen in their communities  — one solar rooftop at a time.

What’s so great about solar anyway?
It’s clean Solar photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s rays directly into electricity creating zero emissions in the process. The process of digging up and burning fossil fuels on the other hand dumps greenhouse gases and hazardous chemicals into our air, water and land, poisoning our bodies and our ecosystem, threatening the safety of life on earth.
There’s an unlimited supply While the fossil fuel industry is forced to go to extreme measures to find dwindling pockets of fossil fuel reserves still left in the ground, the sun showers us with more energy every day than we could ever need, and it’ll never run out.
It saves you money The fuel source for solar panels (the sun’s rays) are totally free. As the cost of solar panels have come down dramatically in just the past few years, solar has now become the world’s cheapest energy source. In most areas of the country, you can go solar for no upfront costs and start saving money on your electric bills right now.
It creates jobs The solar industry is now one of the fastest growing industries in the country creating jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the economy. Solar currently has twice as many workers as the entire coal industry.
It builds community resilience During Hurricane Sandy, when New York City was without power, home-owners with solar panels we’re the only ones with electricity. They ran extension cords out of their homes and let their neighbors charge their cellphones. While increased natural disasters caused by climate change threaten our ageing electrical grid, solar energy coupled with storage and microgrids can provide reliable power when we need it most.
It makes energy more accessible There are currently 1.2 billion people on the planet who don’t have access to electricity. They often burn kerosene lamps to light their homes at night with horrible health impacts, because it’s too costly to build power lines to reach them. Because solar power is distributed, everywhere the sun shines solar panels can provide electricity. Solar provides the least cost option to provide energy access to people around the globe.

RE-volv is a nonprofit organization that empowers people to have a real impact on climate change by building clean energy projects that benefit communities.
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Volunteers celebrate completing a solar installation for Harbor House, a nonprofit in Oakland that offers after school programs for children of immigrant, refugee, and low-income families
Through RE-volv’s solar crowdfunding campaigns, 100% of your donation goes to solarizing a nonprofit of your choice. But it doesn’t stop there. RE-volv has developed a first-of-its-kind revolving fund for solar energy we call the Solar Seed Fund to pay money forward to invest in more community solar projects.
One of the best things about solar energy is that it’s contagious. When someone goes solar, their neighbors are more likely to go solar, and it’s creating solar energy clusters around the country. By helping RE-volv bring solar to nonprofits, you can help spread solar energy even faster.
P.S. We just received funding from, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation! And Leo is going to match your donations dollar for dollar for our upcoming solar crowdfunding campaigns!
Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Donate to RE-volv and help us grow our impact
  2. Volunteer to lead a solar energy crowdfunding campaign for a nonprofit in your community
  3. Join our mailing list to find out when our next crowdfunding campaign will launch
  4. Go solar at home

Together, we can create the clean energy solutions we need!
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Cecilio Aponte led the Harbor House crowdfunding effort as a volunteer RE-volv Solar Champion.
 
About Andreas Karelas
Andreas Karelas is the founder and Executive Director of RE-volv. Andreas is a dedicated renewable energy advocate with over ten years of environmental and renewable energy nonprofit experience. Prior to founding RE-volv Andreas worked with a number of leading organizations including the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the National Audubon Society, blueEnergy, and the Center for Resource Solutions. Andreas holds Master’s degrees in International Affairs and in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He is a 2013 Audubon Toyota TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow and a 2016 OpenIDEO Climate Innovator Fellow.
 
Top photo credit:  Conner Baker

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