Solar Energy

We commit ourselves... To monitor the ways in which we use and consume necessary products and to consider options for obtaining products that are not harmful to the land, the inhabitants, or the bioregion.

The Sisters of St. Joseph recognize that solar energy is an alternative for fossil fuels as it is a non-polluting, clean, reliable and renewable source of energy.

Solar Array on our Brentwood Campus

In response to our Land Ethic Statement, the congregation partnered with organizations interested in promoting clean, sustainable energy use and generation on Long Island. With a desire to control energy costs, reduce the environmental footprint, and move toward energy independence we installed a ground mounted solar array system on the Brentwood property through a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA). The 1MW system (3,192 panels) will supply approximately 63% of current campus energy usage (estimated Year 1 Production: 1,298,455 kWh).  The construction of the solar array was completed in December 2017 and the system is operative.

More than 50 trees were replanted in order to clear the parcel of land for the solar array. Low shrubs, invasive species, and some older trees were removed. The old trees were chipped and the wood chips are being used by our farmers. View the video below to see the process of replanting trees, clearing the brush, and grading the land.

This video shows the process that was used to save 50 trees on the Brentwood campus of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The trees were removed from one area and replanted in another area to prepare the land for the installation of a ground-mounted solar array. The trees that could not be moved were chipped. The tree chips were used for mulch on the farms on our campus.

Solar Installation Best Practices

The Sisters of St. Joseph are collaborating with environmental organizations to plan and implement a revegetation plan for the solar array area to provide multiple ecological benefits, including habitat creation for birds, pollinators, and other small wildlife, soil carbon storage, and storm water retention. Education and outreach are important factors in the plan. The collaborators plan to develop a best practices guide for developing (construction and maintenance) ground-mounted solar projects that provide multiple ecological benefits, using the Sisters of St. Joseph project as a case study. Partnerships will increase awareness and adoption of solar energy generation and the best practices guide. There is the potential to form a network of religious and service organizations across Long Island interested in solar energy generation on their properties. The network will leverage lessons learned, maximize funding opportunities, and develop innovative cost-sharing and cost-reducing strategies for the group.

View this three minute reflection on alternative energy: