Mar 25, 2015

Solar Church #4: Florida Avenue Baptist

Location: 623 Florida Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20001, USA
FLAVBC_Wheresthesolar
Top left: looking SE over the old row houses in the neighborhood
Top right: looking NW to the fast sprouting apartments
Bottom: Regina standing behind the 44 panels
with Howard University Hospital in the background
A five-minute walk from my apartment is our next solar stop, the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (FLAVBC). Regina Ensley, the Pastor's Administrative Assistant was kind enough to take me upstairs.

The church was established in July of 1912. In April 2011, nearly 100 years later, they installed 44 Schott solar panels (installed Volt and 235 watts a piece). It's a 10kw solar power system. The first African American solar churches in the DC metro area and "one of only a handful of African American churches in the nation" (flavbc.org). Given the church trend I'm seeing, I don't think it will be able to boast that title for long.

The driving force behind the solar was Rev. Earl Trent. When I met him, he was heading from one meeting to another but gave me a firm handshake and knew exactly who I was. These social strengths are clearly what helped him to raise $60,000 in donations to front the bill. In addition to making the church a trailblazer in the field, this initiative saves the church around $500 a month in electricity costs. 

If you get a chance, watch this PBS video "America revealed" on the church for some good camera shots.

For the solar companies I've interviewed, churches are a big catch because of their ripple effect. When they install solar, it's visible to members and they will often follow suite. In fact, FLAVBC held a series of classes to educate "members about their utility bills and [...] what they could do to improve the efficiency of their homes" (flavbc.org).

Shaw-Howard is a fast growing neighborhood with 10-story apartment complexes sprouting up to the south and the west. As much as these apartments menace other buildings, FLAVBC is proving that it's cutting edge and able to compete.