Musicians, environmental activists and mindful Philadelphians all gathered on a roof in Olde Kensington last month to promote solar energy awareness and celebrate Philadelphia’s growing sustainability scene.
Dubbed “The Solar Party,” the event took place on top of the Crane Arts Building on Aug. 21, and was hosted by the solar company Solar States. More than 100 guests joined on the Philly rooftop to enjoy live music, local catering and information on solar energy all while basking in the city skyline.
“I consider it a success,” Ashley Tryba, the director of community partnerships and the branding and marketing manager of Solar States, said. “We hope to have more events of similar types.” Tryba graduated from Temple as an environmental science and French double major.
Solar States, founded in 2008, is a benefit corporation, meaning that it is a for-profit company that considers the environment and society in addition to profit in its decision making process.
“We make a profit and then we give that back to the local economy,” Tryba said.
The end goal of Solar States is to put a solar panel on every roof in the city, as the company’s founder, Micah Gold-Markel, said.
“It’s a missed opportunity for energy, for jobs in Philadelphia and for economic development in Philadelphia,” Gold-Markel said. “We’re at a real moment of crisis in terms of the environment and also employment and the economy. If we could bring all that together and find a solution fit to solve all those, that’s it, man. That’s what we need.”
Members at Solar States claim that it is part of that solution. Gold-Markel said he believes that the economic impact of a citywide shift towards solar energy could put Philadelphia on the fast track toward reduced unemployment, a stimulated economy and abundant renewable energy.
Solar States have installed solar panels on roofs throughout the city, both on residential properties and business buildings.
“If you got a roof, we’re going to hit it,” Gold-Markel said.
Solar States has partnerships with different groups in the city, including one with YouthBuild, a charter school for at-risk students in Philadelphia.
“It’s basically for students that have dropped out of high school but then decided that they want to go back and learn a trade,” Tryba said. “We worked with two students this year and hope to expand that year as our shop gets a little bit bigger.”
Another partnership is with The Energy Co-op, an energy company geared towards sustainable solutions. At the Solar Party, guests were encouraged to sign up for the Solar Leaders product, which allows those who may not be able to purchase solar panels for their own home to support local solar. Solar Leaders simply join the co-op and continue to pay their PECO bill. For every 20 households that join, one new household solar project is added to the co-op’s grid.
Gold-Markel said that the biggest roadblock is knowledge.
“It’s getting the word out that this is the best investment financially, for the environment and for creating jobs,” he said.
Jared Whalen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org