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Technically Not Tech: Sustainable learning with Solar States

The growth generation of the region’s solar-tech work force is going to be trained in Northern Liberties, if solar startup Solar States has anything to do about it. This Saturday is the first of a four-session training course called “Green by Example” held in the NoLibs Community Center by Solar States. The $350 class, taught […]

Kensington-based solar startup Solar States fuses education with a unique business plan. Photos courtesy of Solar States.

Kensington-based solar startup Solar States fuses education with a unique business plan. Photos courtesy of Solar States.
The growth generation of the region’s solar-tech work force is going to be trained in Northern Liberties, if solar startup Solar States has anything to do about it.
This Saturday is the first of a four-session training course called “Green by Example” held in the NoLibs Community Center by Solar States. The $350 class, taught by LEED For Homes expert Sam Klein, will give participants the shot at learning the latest in solar technology and weatherization. Guest speakers from top green building companies will join the party, too.
It’s the education arm of a fully-fledged solar business.
See, Solar States Solar States aims to become an independent solar power producer by 2010, and the plan is to do so with the help of Philadelphia high school graduates and others who might want the work but don’t have the training.
Saturday’s beginning of the adult vocation course is another step in that mission of developing this city’s sustainable workforce.
But the company is more than education. Its founders say what they’re developing will help shape the solar energy industry for the better.
Solar States is going to undercut PECO. That’s their business plan, and their clients will help them.
Last week, Solar States applied for a state grant after having an approval accepted for a solar array on the Crane Arts Building, a century-old converted artist community space on American Street just above Girard Avenue. If approved, the 83 kilowatt system could be operational as soon as August.
Solar States would fund the installation — which will be handled by King of Prussia solar startup Aztec Solar Power — own the solar array and sell the electricity to Crane Arts at a lower rate than the city’s energy company at a time of much debate about looming statewide rate hikes. For putting up the array, offering reduced costs to Crane and other considerations, Solar States gets itself a free 25-year lease on the artist space roof and a client contracted to buy their solar-powered electricity.
Watch a Solar States promotional video
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2934350&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Solar States, which is based in Kensington, first won widespread attention for launching a pilot program at the Science Leadership Academy, at 22nd and JFK Blvd., in which students were taught the science behind and how to install and maintain sustainable energies.
“A lot of people want to have solar panels on their houses but just don’t have the technical skills,” Gold-Markel told CBS3 last November.
Watch Solar States on Energy Watch from CBS3
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2934475&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Some have said green tech jobs could replace some of what has been lost in the great loss of industrialization in U.S. urban centers. And the jobs can be varied. Government at the federal, state and municipal level are increasingly joining that dialogue. Earlier this month, as the Inqy reported, the state’s long awaited rebate program for solar energy systems is operational. Still, the city’s unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent.
Gold-Markel, a Web designer and former teacher who launched Solar States last August and grew up in West Philly’s Powelton Village, says he’s hoping to capitalize on the times: building a sustainable-energy distributor and putting people to work through training. The company could become one in a crush of a new standard — your neighborhood solar energy distributor.
The next step just happens to be with a class in Northern Liberties.
If interested in joining the four-week course that begins this Saturday, June 6, sign up here.
Every Monday, Technically Not Tech will feature people, projects, and businesses that are involved with Philly�s tech scene, but aren�t necessarily technology focused. See others here.

Companies: Solar States
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