It’s being touted as one of the top environmental crowdfunding successes of all time. Re-volv Solar, a San Francisco-based organization has come up with a way to fund solar projects whose successful completion becomes the seed for further projects. It also helps reduce the amount CO2 going into the atmosphere. And it’s all done through crowdfunding.
“What if we pool our money together in a fund that continually invests and reinvests in solar energy in our community?” explains Re-volv Solar’s founder and Executive Director Andreas Karelas on its crowdfunding video. “What if your $20 that you invest in solar energy today could become $100 in just a few years?”
That concept has received support and shout-outs from a host of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, American Council on Renewable Energy, Local Clean Energy Alliance, California Interfaith Power and Light, Audubon’s Toyota Together Green, the Wigg Party and 350.org’s founder Bill McKibben.
With the first solar project, a 10 kW installation for the Berkeley-based Shawl-Anderson Dance Studio now funded and installed, the crowdfunding concept has become a proven concept and funding has gained even more steam. A 22 kW project launched on Indiegogo on Dec. 3, 2013 that will provide 72 percent of the electricity for an interfaith synagogue in Oakland has received funding from more than 200 individuals in six countries, putting it in the top 10 most popular crowd sourcing projects of its kind.
Going solar can represent a hefty challenge for a small business. Plunking down $35-$55,000 may seem reasonable if it means that you’re going to be able to cut both your power bill and the carbon emissions for future generations. But for a dance studio or a religious center or any small community-oriented business for that matter, the cost can still be a formidable challenge.
Re-volv says it aims to change that. Using its funding model, Re-volv says each successful project will help pay for the funding for 3 to 5 more projects. “A community center leases solar equipment from RE-volv for 20 years, during which time the cost of the solar installation, plus a small fee, is recouped by RE-volv. RE-volv continually reinvests this money back into the Solar Seed Fund to serve more communities with solar energy.”
The current project has earned $44,000 of the targeted $55,000 it needs to complete the solar panels on Kehilla Community Synagogue in Oakland. Re-volv has until the end of tomorrow (Jan. 23 11:59 pm) to raise the remaining $11,000.
As is standard with crowdfunding projects, there are a variety of funding levels and perks that donors can choose from, ranging from $10 that earns the supporter a virtual “visit” in visit to the completed installation, to $10,000 and a personal visit from Karelas to speak to a designated group or organization about the benefits of solar energy.
“We can do something right now as a community that will make a real difference,” says Karelas. “If we come together, we can generate our own power right here on our rooftops, building an investment for a healthy and prosperous future.”
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.