Rowing club shows solar success
Marin Rowing Association near San Francisco, California, USA recently became the first facility of its kind in the United States to be run entirely off solar energy.
Following an initiative from club member, John Younger, Marin Rowing scoped the project, raised the funds and made the switch in less than one year. Their 28 kilowatt solar panels will save more than 21,000 pounds (9,525 kg) of Carbon Dioxide emission annually.
“It occurred to me that we’re in a phenomenal location and we have a ridiculously supportive club," says Younger. "The 300-plus members really go out of their way to help each other. It seemed like the right nexus of people, location and physical boat house to lead this whole generation of self-sustaining boat houses.”
Younger, who has experience in solar panels, helped to evaluate the extent of the project. “From the beginning we envisioned not only powering the boathouse, but also providing two complementary electric car charges and scope the system so that in the future the fleet of launches, once they are electric, can be charged as well.”
In an effort to make this project economically viable for the club, they enlisted the help of junior and masters rowers to install the technology. They were also able to get much of the technology at cost. Through a successful fundraising campaign called the “Power 28 Campaign” the club raised enough funds to complete the initiative.
“The receptivity was phenomenal,” Younger says. “The participation from the members was really touching, we had so many people participate, even if it was just a small amount.” Beyond the donations, Younger estimates that the project will pay for itself in less than one year. By purchasing the technology outright, the club will save 6,000 USD per year on their electricity bill, money which can be fed back into the club and the programmes.
“It is not only self-sufficient from the energy standpoint, it becomes and on-going contribution to the club’s financial resource,” Younger explains.
Marin Rowing Association boasts one the top programmes in the country for juniors and masters alike with crews frequently at the top of the leader board at USRowing’s Junior National Championships and the masters doing well in the Head of the Charles masters events.
So, what makes this club so special?
“I think what stands out is how ridiculously vibrant the programme is from 15-year-old juniors to 80-year-old masters. There are very few clubs that I’ve seen where all those programmes are both woven together and very supportive,” Younger says.
A combination of good coaching, time on the water and a competitive spirit helps to put this club at the top. And through the sense of community established at Marin, they were able to find the resource, the time and the motivation to make an environmentally sustainable choice. “I think it is absolutely replicable in other clubs,” says Younger, “and we are willing to provide support for anyone who would like to try.”
For more information, visit the Marin website here: http://www.marinrowing.org/