Catching Sunshine

When they first began their “green energy” journey, International Sports Training Camp (ISTC) Directors Mark Major and Kara Klaus-Major were intimidated by the task.

A sunny day means lots of solar energy at International Sports Training Camp. Photo courtesy of International Sports Training Camp

With approximately 270 campers and 130 staff members in residence each week, the directors discussed the potential to shrink the camp electricity bill by utilizing green energy strategies.

The Stroudsburg, Pa., overnight sports camp had always strived to be environmentally friendly. Officials at the 500-acre facility had recently welcomed a new green-conscious health center, cooled with geothermal energy.

Campers were always encouraged to recycle, and old materials were often repurposed for new activities. Employees also milled their own wood using trees that had been removed from the property.

Incorporating more green energy to power the camp was the next logical step in their journey.

Extensive Research

The camp began by seeking out renewable-energy options to assist in the long-term planning of summer camp. Wind power was originally considered, but research determined that geographic wind currents were not favorable in the Pocono Mountain region.

Instead, camp leaders turned their attention to solar energy and began to educate themselves on its possibilities for improving operations and boosting property value.

Like travelers immersed in a new culture, the ISTC staff garnered information by attending solar energy seminars and lectures, and doing individual research. The staff scoured websites, studied the Pennsylvania campus, and tracked electric usage.

After a few years of research, ISTC gained a clearer understanding of how energy needs matched available options.

Staff members learned there were many local, state, and federal grants available to assist in solar PV systems, and resources like dsireusa.org helped companies find grants that subsidize installation costs. Knowing they would need some guidance in grant writing, ISTC sought solar panel installation companies that incorporated this into their pricing.

Mission Accomplished

All of the effort involved in applying for grants proved worth it when ISTC qualified for enough funding to pay for 50 percent of the system.

In June 2011, ISTC’s 40-kilowatt solar PV system became a reality. Panels were installed by employees of Power Up, a company that specializes in solar electric systems.

Solar panels help the camp reduce energy costs. Photo courtesy of International Sports Training Camp

Since the installation, the panels have produced a total of 44,233kw of electricity. ISTC eliminated more than 75,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas that results from human activities and causes global warming and climate change. To put this number in perspective, it is equivalent to:

•  Planting 7.3 acres of pine trees, or 875 tree seedlings

•  Recycling 11.9 tons of waste

•   Removing four homes per year from the energy grid

•  Saving 1,421 propane cylinders from being used for home barbecues

•  Removing seven passenger vans from the road each year

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