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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Solar Energy Enlightens Meditation Center

Mar 26, 2014 11:03AM ● By Carrie Jackson

When Amona Buechler climbs a narrow ladder up to the roof of Inner Metamorphosis University (IMU), the holistic meditation center she co-founded in 2005, she looks over the solar panels covering the roof and knows that the energy they use there isn’t draining the Earth’s resources. Buechler had the panels installed in November 2013 primarily for environmental, not financial, reasons. While she will be saving money in the long run, saving fossil fuels was her biggest motivator.

IMU hosts meditation sessions, yoga classes, Feldenkrais, tai chi, kirtans, energy work and other events and classes. Their dedication to conscious living makes the solar panels a natural addition. Buechler says she researched many companies before choosing Earth Wind And Solar Energy.

The solar panels are monocrystalline, which are more efficient than the cheaper polycrystalline panels and carry a 25-year warranty. “There are actually two separate arrays on the building; one for IMU and the other is for an apartment on the second floor,” says John Caravette, VP of Earth Wind And Solar Energy. “The larger, flat-roof section is for IMU and will provide about half of their energy needs. The smaller array on the pitched roof section will provide 100 percent of the apartment’s current needs, making it a “net zero” home.”

Buechler’s final cost was about $18,000 after a state of Illinois rebate and a federal tax credit. “It’s going to take about five to seven years to get the money back in savings from my energy bill, but in addition to the energy savings, we also see an immediate appreciation in the value of the property without the property tax implications,” says Buechler.

Roofs that face south and don’t have many shadows or trees in the way are the best candidates for a solar array. Says Buechler, “Whatever we don’t use immediately goes back into the energy grid, where it is held until we need it.” Buechler, who buys 100 percent renewable energy from her electric provider (wind power) for the rest of her energy needs, is able to track how much solar power she is generating in any given day or month. “In the summer, there is obviously more energy production, so we are able to ‘bank’ that and use the surplus in the lower production months of winter,” she says.

The panels require minimal maintenance, and the installation process took a few short days. Buechler would recommend a solar array to anyone that is interested in reducing their use of fossil fuels and creating their own energy in an environmentally friendly way. “Greening our lives is the best thing we can do to help life on our planet survive,” she says.

IMU is located at 1418 W. Howard, in Chicago. For more information, call 773-262-1468 or visit Contact Earth Wind And Solar Energy at 312-243-9933 or visit