Solar Energy at Glen Brook
May 10, 2022
3 min read
Sustainability is central to so much of Glen Brook: it informs how we create community, activities, levels of programming. In the field of environmental sustainability, many steps that we have taken over the years form the bedrock of our programing and day-to-day operation.
As a farm, we use the most regenerative and holistic agricultural practices including biodynamics, intensive rotational grazing, and no-till farming because they are good for the health of the land as well as the quality of the food that we harvest and serve. We minimize our waste streams by minimizing what we purchase, feeding food scraps to farm animals, and composting what can’t be eaten so that it returns to the soil for new growth. And perhaps more importantly, we are a place of learning: all of these practices are constantly modeled, discussed, and shared with everybody who comes to spend time at Glen Brook and participate in the work of making this harmonious and sustainable community thrive.
As a facility and a home to many, we are always thinking about energy use in our buildings. Living in New Hampshire, our highest energy need is heat through the cold, blustery winters. We have reduced our consumption by increasing the insulation in our buildings, and removed our dependence on oil by heating entirely with wood. Our forestry practices allow us to use locally-sourced wood in our stoves and some building projects, while keeping our forests intact for the continued health of our local ecosystem and the larger biosphere.
We are excited to share our desire to install a solar array in the near future that will produce all the electricity that we use in a year. We have mapped out a plan of what that would look like, with a solar field sited in the White Meadows hay fields. This would allow us to offset all of our electric use, and we are excited about the prospect of exploring integrated systems, such as grazing sheep in the shade of the panels. This plan is estimated to offset our carbon emissions by 130,000 pounds per year and save over $20,000 in annual electric bills. This will significantly reduce our carbon footprint as an organization, and in the future we can use this solar electricity to power our vehicles as well.
We often hear talk about being carbon neutral; Glen Brook’s goal is to be carbon negative. Through agricultural and forestry practices that act as a carbon sink, by minimizing our consumption and energy use, and soon by generating our own electricity, this is a realistic and exciting direction. As campers and students come to us throughout the year, we are excited to share with them all the countless ways that Glen Brook works to leave the world better than the way we found it, and inspire them to do the same. We look forward to sharing how our community can support making this exciting new stewardship project possible in the months to come!
– Mark Stehlik, Executive Director