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BBF “Flips The Switch” On Renewable Energy

9-9-22 graphic blog-min

By Kaitlyn Nuebel

It’s official: Brother’s Brother Foundation is powered by the sun. 

The organization hosted its “Flip the Switch” event September 8, to celebrate the conclusion of its 20-month long process to convert to a sustainable form energy. Connected Energy Solar installed solar panels on the roof of BBF’s warehouse that are expected to offset 92% of its energy needs and save the organization $20,000 in fuel costs each year. The organization will also receive a rebate from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for installing six electric vehicle chargers for public use.   

Both projects came to fruition through a nearly $179,000 grant from Green Mountain Energy (GME), a renewable energy retailer that also funds nonprofits sustainable efforts through its Sun Club program.

During the event, Johnny Richardson, a program manager at the organization, said “it’s no surprise” that BBF was selected as the program’s 151st project.  

“Sustainability is more than environmental stewardship. We believe in solutions that not only benefit the planet, but also benefit people in our local communities,” Richardson said. “We are proud to work with Ozzy and his amazing team [at BBF] to aid underserved communities around the world and bridge the gap between aid and sustainability in the areas of healthcare, infrastructure, disaster response, and education.” 

State Representative Aerion Abney of District 19 also attended, remarking that BBF’s switch to solar is part of a “new era in Pittsburgh” in which old warehouses and steel mills are being repurposed.  

“When I think about the legacy we’re trying to leave for our next generation, it makes me feel confident as a father of two kids that the environment and the sustainability of our environment are going to be in a positive situation 10, 20 and 30 years down the line because of the decision that we’re making here today,” Abney said.   

In addition to helping the local environment, the newly-installed electric vehicle chargers and solar panels also played a role in helping the local economy. According to Brain Kennedy, senior vice president of operations and government affairs at the Pittsburgh Technology Council and BBF Board Member, parts from electric vehicles tend to be manufactured from parts made in Pittsburgh.  

“There’s more PPG paint on the inside of a Tesla battery than there is on the outside of the car. Ultra-high strength steel that is necessary to make these cars safe – US Steel, Covestro — all these local companies are powering the electrification revolution…this is a really critical economic opportunity for the City of Pittsburgh,” Kennedy said.     The installation of BBF’s solar panels also positively impacted the local economy, as Connected Energy Solar is a Pittsburgh-based business founded by Dunnegan McKay. Having opened just two years ago, BBF is the company’s second commercial project. 

BBF President Ozzy Samad hopes the newly installed solar panels and electric vehicle chargers are just the beginning of future sustainability efforts at BBF. 

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