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Catching some rays: New Goodwill location in Robinson uses solar energy

By Alex Mell
On February 1, 2012

  • The new Goodwill that opened Jan. 25 at 3 Urbano Way in Robinson Township, has been ceritifed by Class-G for its green efforts. The location is partially solar-powered. Jenna O'Brien/Photo Editor

Pittsburgh has made plenty of strides in recent years to earn and keep its reputation as an eco-friendly city. On Jan. 25, Goodwill helped Pittsburgh make yet another stride by opening the first solar-powered Goodwill store in Pennsylvania that opened in Robinson Township.

According to a press release from Goodwill, the store, which is located in Robinson's shopping district on Urbano Way, features a "store of the future look," with upgrades on the outside and the inside.

The solar-powered system was installed on the roof of the store and is composed of 216 modules that capture energy from the sun to supply nearly half of the store's electric power needs, which will reduce Goodwill's utility costs in addition to being environmentally friendly, according to the press release.

Scalo Solar Solutions, the company that installed the modules, is a Pittsburgh-based solar developer that was founded in 2010. Goodwill estimates that the system will reduce carbon dioxide gas emissions, in its lifespan, by more than 1.7 million pounds, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by 157 cars, 100 homes or 1,858 barrels of oil, according to the press release.

TJ Willitts, director of marketing at Scalo, said solar power has risen in popularity in Pittsburgh in the past few years.

"Solar in the country itself has grown over 65 percent in the last couple of years," Willitts said. "It's a booming industry. There's a lot more interest here in the region."

Because of its weather, Pittsburgh might not seem like an ideal city for solar power, but Willitts said it is.

"There's a thought that Pittsburgh is too cloudy of a place, but it works with light and not heat, which makes Pittsburgh a solar viable location," Willitts said.

Robinson's new Goodwill store has also been given a Class-G rating from the Class-G, and organization housed in Pittsburgh which recognizes green and sustainable businesses.

The process of earning a Class-G rating includes reviewing an 85-item checklist that gauges sustainability, including the use of common printers defaulting to double sided in order to save on the waste of paper.

Mike Embrescia, who received his MBA from Duquesne and is director of Class-G, said that some of the items on the checklist include air and health, energy and water and materials and waste production.

"They aren't looking at the windows and the doors, they are looking at what the people are doing inside," Embrescia said.

Goodwill has made conscious effort to recycle that fits its unique needs. According to Goodwill Southwestern Pennsylvania VP of Marketing and Development David Tobiczyk, Goodwill has found a recycler that can recycle a single shoe. Since people typically won't purchase a single shoe, but often donate them, Tobiczyk said it is important to recycle them in order for the company to recycle as many materials as possible.

Since Class-G began giving ratings in July, 2011, 40 million square feet of space in Southwestern Pennsylvania have been certified. Goodwill has Class-G in their sights for current and futures facilities.

"All of our stores are going to be Class-G facilities," Tobiczyk said. "That helps us act as environmentally friendly as possible."

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