Sungevity Named “Best For The World” In Environment And Worker Categories

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We’re proud to announce that Sungevity has been named Best for the World in the environment and worker categories by B Labs, the nonprofit organization behind the B Corporation movement.

To qualify, Sungevity earned a worker and environmental impact score in the top 10% of all Certified B Corps. But the award represents more than just a score: it reflects Sungevity’s core belief the rooftop revolution must be sustainable, for our team and for the planet, in order to thrive. It means that every day, in addition to the solar energy services we provide, we also provide best-in-class employee and environmental benefits including:

  • Continuing education and professional development resources for 100% of employees
  • Three weeks paid vacation
  • A commuter bike program with showers installed on-site and free shuttle buses connecting employees to public transit
  • Employee-run volunteer days through Rebuilding Together Oakland, GRID Alternatives and more
  • Access to free kayak passes

Read more on our B Corp profile page. As a B Corp, we’re leading a global movement to redefine success in business so one day all companies compete to be not only the best in the world, but best for the world. We join over 1,200 other companies committed to using business as a force for good. Check them all out at bcorporation.net.

Thank you for helping us succeed where it truly matters, and for proving that doing good is good for business. We couldn’t do it without you.

Sungevity and zulily Work Together to Make Your Little Sunshine A Star

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Renu Mathias, Associate Vice President of Affinity Marketing at Sungevity, and her son Taj.

The decision to install home solar is usually made by the adults in a household, but we’re making children the stars of our 2015 campaign, “See Solar Differently.” Why? Because children are the reason solar energy matters.

An old saying goes: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Wouldn’t we rather return a planet to our kids that has plentiful clean air and water, a stable atmosphere, and that is powered by clean energy?

A recent survey* of U.S. parents commissioned by Sungevity indicates the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” The majority of parents surveyed (67%) want solar to be the world’s primary energy source when their children grow up. In fact, most are planning to take matters into their own hands: 81% of parents plan to live in a solar-powered home.

So to find our next star to headline Sungevity’s Back to School campaign this fall, we are running a casting call contest with zulily, mom’s favorite retailer. We’re looking for kids 0-12 that have that certain shiny quality that sets them apart from the rest.

If you think your kid has what it takes, go on and show us how they shine! Entering is simple. Just go to www.zulily.com/Sungevity-contest and follow the on-screen instructions to complete your entry and submit a photo of your child.

The grand prize winner will receive a family photoshoot, a mini makeover and a $500 zulily gift card!

The contest launches Wednesday, 4/22 in honor of Earth Day and ends Saturday, 4/25. Click here for the official contest rules. Sungevity is a global solar energy provider focused on making it easy and affordable for homeowners to benefit from solar power. See solar differently at www.sungevity.com.

* The Sungevity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 U.S. parents with children in the home between March 18-March 25, 2015 using an email invitation and online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. parent population.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by this sample. To learn more about Sungevity’s Solar Survey, please contact Cory Shaw at cshaw@sungevity.com.

10 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Solar Company

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Shopping for home solar can feel overwhelming because, at first glance, many companies look the same. How do you tell them apart and choose the right system and company for you? We put together a list of 10 questions to ask every solar company to help you make the best decision.

Question #1: Is this a firm quote or an estimation? 

Why: Decisions are better made with real numbers. The more accurately a company understands your energy needs, the better it can develop a quote that addresses your future electricity usage and optimizes your bill savings. If the quote is estimated and is liable to change after you’ve signed a contract, make sure you understand how the contract addresses changes and whether you have the option to approve changes or cancel.

Question #2: Do you guarantee the system’s performance? What happens if the system doesn’t produce as much as you promise?

Why: Most solar companies will offer a production guarantee, but the specifics matter. Confirm that the company will pay you the difference if your system underperforms, and that the rate is similar to the amount you pay your utility company.

Question #3: Between a lease, PPA and loan, which financing options can you offer me? Given my situation, would you recommend financing or buying the system outright?

Why: Some financing options are a better fit for certain households, depending on income level, credit score, tax appetite, and other factors. Make sure to shop around, and don’t get discouraged if one option isn’t viable for you. Another solar company might offer a different option that makes going solar possible for you. Understanding your options is key to making the best financial decision for your family.

Question #4: Who designed this system? Does someone double-check that it will fit on my roof?

Why: Many companies have their salespeople design systems, but this practice can result in systems that are oversized or that don’t meet the local building code. Ask who designed the system: was it someone with technical expertise who understands what is or is not possible to build? Is someone checking the work to make sure the system fits on your roof and is up to code?

Question #5: How do you forecast the system’s energy production? Do you take shading into account?

Why: A solar system’s actual electrical output is not equal to what the panels are rated to produce, so verify that the company has a robust methodology for forecasting your system’s actual production. The best forecasts take into consideration factors related to your specific roof (e.g. roof pitch, shading and angle to the sun) as well as factors related to your home’s location (e.g. solar energy potential and historical weather patterns).

Question #6: Given my roof’s shading and size, do you recommend a single inverter system, microinverters, or high efficiency panels?

Why: A standard solar system gives most households the best bang for their buck. This system typically includes a single inverter and ~250 watt panels. But, under certain circumstances, it may be worth the extra money to seek microinverters or high efficiency panels:

  • Microinverters allow you to put solar panels on multiple roof faces, instead of in one or two contiguous rectangles, to accommodate atypical roof shapes or shade patterns.
  • High efficiency panels (~325 watts) are useful for households with small rooftops.

Ask the solar company which system equipment will work best for your roof type.

Question #7: Do you have experience getting permits for installing solar in my area?

Why: Each jurisdiction has different building codes that affect your system design. Remember that your local municipality has the final say on whether your system gets interconnected to the electrical grid. If your installation doesn’t meet the local building code, you may be required to make costly modifications to your system before it can be interconnected.

Question #8: Who is installing the system? Do you assess each finished installation for quality?

Why: Solar systems have a lifetime of least 20 years on your rooftop, so make sure the installers will do the work right. What kind of licenses do they have? Does the company incentivize their installers to meet high quality standards on every single job?

Question #9: Do you conduct a roof inspection? What happens if I sign up with you and my roof doesn’t meet your requirements?

Why: A good rule of thumb is that your roof should have at least 10 years of life left before installing solar panels. If an inspection reveals that your roof doesn’t meet that requirement, your solar company may request that you reroof before installation. Ask whether the company’s contract contains a clause that lets you out of the agreement if your roof isn’t up to snuff, and whether the company will charge you a cancellation fee for doing so.

Question #10: How do you protect my roof against leaks?

Why: Ask about the hardware that the solar company uses to mount the solar panels. Is the seal watertight? Will it withstand wear and tear over the lifetime of the solar installation? Most importantly, make sure the installer is responsible for fixing any damage that the installation might cause to your roof so you’re not left high and dry (or, in the worst case scenario, damp).

Ready to start your solar research? Request an iQuote to learn whether Sungevity would be the right choice for you.

Sungevity is a global solar energy provider focused on making it easy and affordable for homeowners to benefit from solar power. See solar differently at www.sungevity.com.

Sungevity Recertified As A Benefit “B” Corporation For The 4th Consecutive Term

Sungevity is recertified as a B corporation

For the fourth time, Sungevity has received certification as a Benefit “B” Corporation for meeting rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Too many businesses seek profit without considering the impact their business practices are having on people and the environment. Sungevity is part of the B Corporation community to change that definition of success, and because we believe that improving the process of going solar provides a critical service to the community. As a B Corp, we incorporate the three pillars of sustainability into our bottom line: people, planet, and profit.

As we state on our B Corp profile:

Sungevity is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible solar installation in order to combat the changing climate as well as contribute to the rising clean energy economy as a community.

  • Sungevity’s mission is to increase the amount of solar installed on Earth 700-fold before 2054 in order to meet the challenge of global warming by constantly making it easier and more affordable.

  • They aim to not only scale a pure solution to climate change, but, create new green-collar jobs and economic development opportunities in the clean energy economy.

  • By creating and spreading “sunshine online,” Sungevity aims to build communities across the globe that are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and moving forward to a clean energy economy.

Sungevity became a founding B Corp in December 2007 and has consistently placed on “Best of” B Corps lists since then, being recognized as Best for the World in 2012 and 2013. Sungevity is the only residential solar company in the top 5 leaderboard that is also a certified B Corp.

More than one thousand corporations have been certified as B Corporations since B Lab’s founding in 2007. Another B Corp, Taitem Engineering, is one of Sungevity’s Preferred Installers and serves upstate New York. Mosaic, a B Corp located in Oakland, California partnered with Sungevity to bring affordable solar solutions to North Carolina. To learn more about the B Corporation community, visit www.bcorporation.net.

7 San Diego Attractions You Didn’t Know Were Solar-Powered

Solar panels shine at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

Solar panels shine at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

San Diego is crazy for solar (no wonder, with all that sunshine). The city has 197.5 megawatts of solar power installed – that’s enough to power over 40,000 homes. So, where exactly is all that solar power hiding? Turns out, it’s busy powering some of your favorite local attractions.

San Diego welcomes its new solar-powered bike share program.

San Diego welcomes its new solar-powered bike share program.

1. San Diego Bike Share

Start your solar tour at San Diego’s new bike share program, operated by DECOBIKE. The program features over 1,800 bikes that you can rent on demand from any one of these stations located all over the city. The best part? The stations are solar powered and they operate day and night, so you can cruise to your heart’s content.

2. University of California – San Diego

If solar panels make you smart, then the students attending UC San Diego are brilliant. UC San Diego has over 2 megawatts of solar power installed on campus rooftops and parking garages, including the beloved Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography support building, Nimitz Marine Facility and more.

3. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Always the trendsetter, the Fleet Science Center was the first San Diego museum to go solar. The Center has over 10,000 square feet of solar panels installed on its rooftop.

Solar canopies at the San Diego Zoo.

Solar canopies at the San Diego Zoo.

4. San Diego Zoo

If you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll go wild over the San Diego Zoo’s solar-powered EV charging stations. The Zoo installed 5 charging stations to meet the growing demand in San Diego County – SDG&E reported that there already are more than 10,000 EV drivers in their service area. The 10 solar canopies at the Zoo provide more than just electricity: they also provide shade to 50 cars in the Zoo’s southeast parking area. See what inspired the project here.

5. Stone Brewery, Escondido

Looking to kick back at the end of a long day? Grab a solar-powered beer at the Stone Brewery in Escondido. Their rooftop solar panels produce about 30% of the power for the brewery and restaurant, preventing approximately 160 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually.

6. Gateway Chula Vista Center, Chula Vista

Chula Vista flipped the switch on 1,055 panel solar array in early 2015 as part of a campaign to win a $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. In March, Chula Vista was selected as a semifinalist and will compete against 49 other cities across America to see which creative strategies can best reduce per capita energy consumption. Georgetown University will announce a winner in 2017.

7. Christmas on Knob Hill, San Marcos

‘Tis always the season for solar. The lighting display known as Christmas on Knob Hill has been a San Marcos tradition for years – and now, the festive display runs on solar energy. The family behind the display reported that their annual energy costs, including the Christmas display, will decrease from $5,000 to just under $500.

Bill Gilfillen, Christmas on Knob Hill's Santa, is a happy solar homeowner.

Bill Gilfillen, Christmas on Knob Hill’s Santa, is a happy solar homeowner.

When In Drought, Californians Can Turn To Solar Energy (Part 1)

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Skiers avoid dry patches at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Credit Max Whittaker/Getty Images/New York Times

Yesterday, California’s Governor Jerry Brown imposed mandatory restrictions on the state’s water use for the first time in history. The announcement coincides with the end of another disappointing winter season for local skiers, who looked on enviously as snowfall set records in New England. The evidence is clear: the drought in California is serious, and it’s getting worse. So, why is solar energy making us hopeful? Because solar energy requires little to no water to generate electricity, unlike other energy sources, and it’s growing like gangbusters across California.

Governor Brown clearly didn’t come to his decision lightly. The California Department of Water Resources released data last month showing that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range has reached historic lows, containing only 19% the amount of water as is normal for March. The Sierra Nevada snowpack serves as a vital storage mechanism for water in the state: melting snow from the Sierras usually supplies 30% of California’s water during spring and summer months. Unless California sees huge snowstorms in the next two months, 2015 will be the state’s fourth consecutive year of drought.

Can we expect this drought to end soon? It’s looking unlikely. National Geographic reported last year that multi-year dry spells like this might be the norm for California – the previous 100 years were just unusually wet for the state. And according to a new study, climate change is only going to make things worse. Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh and his research team from Stanford University recently published data that shows a strong link between California’s drought conditions and human-caused climate change.

Source: Solar Power Growth Trends Per State in the USA, Live Green, Jan 2013

Figure 1: California Installed Solar Capacity. Source: Solar Power Growth Trends Per State in the USA, Live Green, Jan 2013

This is how the future of California’s drought becomes tied to solar energy. When it comes to solar, California leads the nation with more solar energy installed than any other U.S. state: 9,977 MW to be exact, or enough to power nearly 2 million homes. The carbon offset by those solar installations is equivalent to taking over 2 million cars off the road. (Figure derived from EPA carbon offset calculator here.) And solar is being installed at an exponential rate (see Figure 1), so the story doesn’t end there. Solar’s success story in California is directly helping the state reduce carbon emissions and address climate change head on.

Moreover, solar is one of the least thirsty energy sources around (see Figure 2). As we published last year, coal-fired power plants require 100-1,100 gallons of water to generate one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity. Nuclear isn’t much better, requiring 100-800 gallons. Solar, by comparison, requires as little as 0 gallons of water to produce the same amount of electricity.

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Figure 2: How thirsty is your energy source?

Solar energy will not solve the drought in California by itself. Stakeholders across the state are tackling the problem from all sides, from reforming groundwater management regulations to constructing smart irrigation systems that use wireless sensors to measure precisely how much water a plant needs. When in drought, every drop of effort makes a difference.

Sungevity is a global solar energy provider focused on making it easy and affordable for homeowners to benefit from solar power. Find out how you can help spread the growth of solar energy at www.sungevity.com.

This post is the first in a series on the California drought. Stay tuned to the Sungevity Blog for Part 2.