UNC Solar Spring Break 2015

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March 13, 2015

When most people think of a typical college spring break, they likely think of sun-filled getaways to exotic locales. While many use the time for themselves to soak up some rays, ten students from the University of North Carolina thought differently – they would spend their time in the sun helping others by installing solar for families alongside GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles (GLA). As part of GRID Alternatives’ Solar Spring Break, these ten students spent a week volunteering with GLA, learning the in’s and out’s of both GLA’s work and the Los Angeles solar industry. The students are members of Epsilon Eta, an environmental honors fraternity at UNC, the first of its kind in the country. Since many are interested in a future career in renewable energy, they sought to gain valuable, first-hand solar experience and knowledge while helping others. 

“You get to be in LA and learn about something hands-on in a way that you can’t really in school. It’s good to experience this with your friends too,” said Eden Sipperly, a graduating senior studying Environmental Science.

 The students spent two days installing a 2.2 KW system for a family in Long Beach. The system is estimated to produce more than 120,000 kWh over its lifetime, and savings of approximately 75% on utility bills for its new owners. 

“I enjoyed seeing the community members who we helped, and am happy knowing our work decreased their energy bills,” said Joshua Edwards, an Ecology and Natural Resources double major.

During their Solar Spring Break, the students immersed themselves in every aspect of GLA’s work. They aided with service calls and conducted site surveys with our construction staff, and canvassed neighborhoods alongside outreach staff to spread the word about the benefits of going solar with GLA. They also met job trainees at Homeboy Industries and witnessed how solar has played a key role in their job development with our workforce development and volunteer training staff.

“I love the community that GRID impacts. I thought it was really helpful to try and understand the people that you are working with and how to help them understand the benefits of solar…[Solar Spring Break] showed the positive impact that solar can make in an entirely wider community than you would initially think. Often times, we think of solar as only affecting smaller households, but it really does have a place in larger society. Everyone can hear about it and help out,” said Sipperly. 

Thank you to the amazing students who participated in this year’s Solar Spring Break with GLA!

 Click here for photos from their Solar Spring Break.