Centro’s New Home Embraces Latin American Culture Through Sustainable Architecture

Centro’s New Home Embraces Latin American Culture Through Sustainable Architecture

All photos by: Heidi Rudd

Karen Menéndez Coller is a mother, daughter, and community leader. Born in El Salvador, she and her family moved to California when she was 12 years old. Her husband, a Green Bay native, and their two children have called Wisconsin home for the past 10+ years and are “pretty proud of it, too.” She is the Executive Director of Centro, a nonprofit serving Latinx in Dane County.

Despite leaving El Salvador at a young age, Karen said, “I grew up very being very cognizant of my history and my heritage and the role that sustainability plays in the lives of immigrants when we come here. I think, for a long time, it’s been pretty clear to me that almost everybody at Centro, like me, has been impacted by climate change issues globally. And a lot of us ended up here affected by that.”

Over the past ten years, Centro has tripled in size, now serving close to 10,000 individuals. As the demand for services increased, their old space became insufficient. 

This April, the organization unveiled its new building on the south side of Madison. This space tells the story of how community, sustainability, and change intersect in the foundation of their building.

Creating a Safe Space for Latinx Families

Centro was founded in 1983 to provide services to Dane County’s Latin American community. Its mission is “To become a County where Latinx families can aspire upward to reach personal and professional goals while feeling engaged and strengthened with the tools for success.”

“We support an immigrant Spanish-speaking community that’s not supported by [existing] systems. They try, but they don’t know how to help. They don’t understand us as much. So we’re there [to support] as much as we can,” said Karen.

Karen describes Centro as incredibly collectivist in the way it operates, and the team approached the building design in the same collaborative way.

“Everything has been vetted very carefully. We saw the people that were involved as us. We saw ourselves in them. And so that’s how we found the architect, the furniture installers, the designers, everybody was very collective,” said Karen. “So in the process of creating this building, we spent a lot of time healing.”

Making the New Building Feel Like Home

The inspiration for the new building was simple. Centro wanted its community members to feel at home. To achieve this, Karen and her team collaborated with architects and interior designers to incorporate materials native to Latin America into the building design.

“When you walk in, the reception desk is wrapped in lava stone, which is incredibly significant for the Latin American community. It represents fire and strength. This is the first thing that people see when they walk in. We want them to know that this space was designed with them in mind.”

The decision to keep the space open and bright was intentional, especially for sustainability and education. The floors are reminiscent of cement homes in Latin America. Homes that have status, have cement. “That’s what we want our families to feel.” 

“We’re talking about getting a drone so that we can take live shots of the solar panels. There’s some rain gardens out in our exterior plaza that some of our staff and young people are going to upkeep and maintain. That’s been a wonderful way to engage the community. We have geothermal, we committed to that because we believe in the power of the earth and trying to get energy from the earth to sustain us. This building is fully electric and we have windows everywhere,” said Karen.

Her vision is for the families to look outside, see the seasons, and ask about the solar panels and geothermal installation. The goal is to incite curiosity about the different aspects of the building. The design highlights sustainability and forces the community to consider ways to incorporate it into their lives. For example, the building is near a trailer park that houses some community members. This prompted a conversation about solar panels on mobile homes and how to make them affordable.

Karen has learned a lot throughout the process. 

She said, “The team wants to know more and more. I’m proud that this [building] is on the south side. And I think that our families are going to be able to see it in a very organic way. It’s not a thing that people bring in, it’s just there to be a part of it.”

When in Doubt—Dream

When asked if she could give one piece of advice to organizations looking to create a space that is environmentally sustainable and culturally significant, Karen said, “You just have to start. It’s not as hard as you think. I never feel at Centro that there’s limitations. We’ve got to find the funders and connect with people that understand us, and that allow us to come first,” said Karen.

For Centro, the idea of a new space has been ten years in the making. The details were not flushed out, but they knew they wanted something bigger and more functional than they had in the past.

“In the end, we have nothing to lose on the outside. So many people haven’t cared about our families. And so what do we have to lose? We just have to kind of dream,” said Karen.

Centro’s dream was supported by Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program, RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good Program, and the City of Madison’s Backyard Solar Grant. In addition, they are expecting over $600,000 through the Inflation Reduction Act’s Direct Payment. This will offset 30% of the cost of their geothermal system and 40% of their solar system. 

Centro had always been strategic about the partnerships that they built and the relationships that they have nurtured. When the time came for fundraising, Karen found they had the support of the Dane County Executive, the Madison Mayor, and the Governor. She credits the authenticity of the organization and the relationships they’ve built as the key to success.

“We have a really strong partnership with the director at the Office of Environmental and Climate Sustainability. The Director, Kathy Kuntz, and I are like-minded. She’s always trying to break into communities of color with her work,” she said. “I always try to tell her that it’s easier than you think, you just have to understand our history and what drives us here.’”

For the team at Centro, the drive for this project was to feel connected with the space, the land, and their ancestors and to honor that through environmentally sustainable practices, which is exactly what they did. Ten years seems like a long time to dream and plan, but Karen said, “It’s worth it. It’s valuable. It feels like we’re honoring all the people who are still in El Salvador and other parts of the world that are not here. And we’re saying we’re going to do our part. So that hopefully, it’s a little bit safer and more sustainable over there.”

EPA Announces Recipients of Clean School Bus Program Rebates

EPA Announces Recipients of Clean School Bus Program Rebates

On May 29, the EPA announced the award recipients for the Clean School Bus Program rebates. In total, the state of Wisconsin received $22.9 million in funding spread across 24 school districts. It’s exciting to see Wisconsin school districts leading the way in the transition to electric school buses, ensuring a cleaner and healthier commute for students across the state.

The Clean School Bus Program is focused on replacing traditional diesel-powered school buses with cleaner ones. This initiative, established under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), allocates $5 billion over five years for this transition. As of 2024, we’re in the third year of funding.

To be selected for the rebate, school districts are required to fill out a rebate form and are then entered into a lottery. Congratulations to those who received funding from the EPA for this round, we’re looking forward to supporting them as they transition to clean buses.

Here is the full list of Wisconsin award recipients:

  • Alma School District: $345,000
  • Auburndale School District: $200,000
  • Augusta School District: $530,000
  • Beloit School District: $8,705,000
  • Boyceville Community School District: $50,000
  • Elmbrook School District: $200,000
  • Green Lake School District: $200,000
  • Isthmus Montessori Academy Public Agency: $345,000.00
  • Ithaca School District: $25,000
  • Lancaster Community School District: $400,000
  • Marion School District: $420,000
  • Mayville School District: $800,000
  • Menominee Indian School District: $690,000
  • Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District: $200,000
  • Milwaukee School District: $7,465,000
  • Mount Horeb Area School District: $200,000
  • North Crawford School District: $690,000
  • Oneida Nation School: $245,000
  • Oregon School District: $200,000
  • Osseo-Fairchild School District: $200,000
  • Pittsville School District: $690,000
  • Platteville School District: $25,000
  • River Ridge School District: $25,000
  • Sheboygan Area School District: $100,000

To see the full list of recipients, please click on this link to go to the EPA website about the Clean School Bus rebate: Clean School Bus Program Awards.

Wisconsin’s EV Infrastructure Gets a Major Boost

Wisconsin’s EV Infrastructure Gets a Major Boost

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has revealed the locations of the first 53 Level 3, DC-fast charging, electric vehicle (EV) stations across Wisconsin funded through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program. This marks a significant milestone in the state’s journey towards a sustainable transportation future.

The announcement follows the signing of legislation in March — Senate Bill 791 and Senate Bill 792, now 2023 Wisconsin Acts 121 and 122. These laws enabled WisDOT to receive and administer over $78 million in federal NEVI funds allocated to Wisconsin. For these initial projects, $23.3 million was awarded. This funding represents a critical investment in the state’s EV infrastructure.

Private Sector Commitment

The drive towards a sustainable future is also being fueled by Wisconsin-based companies. Industry leaders such as Kwik Trip, Menards, Culver’s, Potawatomi Fire Side Market, and Oneida Casino have demonstrated their commitment to the state’s economic future. Collectively, the private sector’s commitment is a substantial one, totaling $10.5 million. This strong state support underscores that the push for new, robust EV infrastructure is coming from within Wisconsin itself.

This significant investment underscores the value that electric vehicles can bring to Wisconsin’s overall economy. It also highlights the confidence that industry stakeholders have in the future of EV adoption and EV infrastructure in the state.

The public-private partnership showcased in this initiative is evidence of the understanding that reliable charging infrastructure will be a benefit to both residents and businesses across Wisconsin. The EV charging network will support drivers, businesses, tourists, and the overall economy of Wisconsin.

Extensive Coverage Across the State

By ensuring that the first round of funding covers a wide range of locations and communities across Wisconsin WisDOT is doing its part to spread the benefits of this new infrastructure. With the strategic placement of these charging stations throughout the state, residents across the state will no longer question whether they could be stranded without power for their EVs.

One of the significant barriers to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles has been range anxiety—the fear that an EV will run out of power before reaching a charging station, much less one that will recharge a vehicle quickly. The establishment of these 53 fast charging stations is a substantial step towards eliminating both concerns. With a robust network of fast charging stations, drivers can feel confident in making the switch to electric, knowing they will have access to fast, convenient, and reliable charging options.

Action Alert: Vista Sands Solar Development At Risk

Action Alert: Vista Sands Solar Development At Risk

A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) created by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin regarding Vista Sands Solar Farm and is missing a discussion of solar’s impact on reducing carbon emissions. In its current form, the EIS is also missing a full description of the effects of climate change on the Greater Prairie Chicken. Knowing these environmental impacts could help the PSCW during their decision-making process.

Join us in asking that the EIS be revised to include necessary information as it relates to the Greater Prairie Chicken and the impacts the Vista Sands Solar Farm would have on this protected bird and its habitat. Comments for the PSCW related to the EIS are due by the end of the day on June 14.

Sample comments are provided below. Personalized comments are more effective, please take the time to make your message to the PSCW unique.

Sample Comments:

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made for the Vista Sands Solar Farm by the Department of Natural Resources should be revised to reflect all aspects of the proposed solar farm. The current version of the EIS is missing key considerations related to how Vista Sands would reduce carbon emissions. Vista Sands would, in combination with other clean energy resources, mitigate climate change, which is a key driver in habitat loss for the Greater Prairie Chicken.

The EIS is also missing important details, such as a complete description of over a century of land changes, and other the main reasons for the Greater Prairie Chicken’s habitat loss in the region. I am urging the DNR to update their EIS to create a more complete picture of the Greater Prairie Chicken, its habitat, and the benefits of reduced carbon emissions.


Clean Energy Works Profile – Sam Lammers

Clean Energy Works Profile – Sam Lammers

Sam Lammers entered the renewable energy industry a little over a year ago but has already taken on a leadership role at Arch Solar as the DC Crew Lead. The Wisconsin native was raised in Sheboygan and until recently, she worked in the nearby Washington and Waukesha Counties as an Invasive Species Coordinator and also Conservation Warden for the Department of Natural Resources.

“…sustainability and conservation have always been a passion of mine,” Lammers said.

Lammers went to school at UW – Green Bay where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in environmental policy and planning. Her passions, however, extend beyond the environment. Lammers is also the owner of her yoga studio and it was through one of her clients that she learned about Arch Solar.

“Actually finding Arch Solar came as kind of an accident, I was having breakfast with one of my yoga clients,” Lammers said. “I actually own a yoga studio, and she was telling me about her job and how I would be a really good fit for it. She asked me if it’s something I would be interested in and if I would check out.”

Lammers quickly learned how right her client was. She has found the work rewarding and just shortly after her one-year anniversary, Lammers is already looking for ways to grow in her role. Within the next year, she hopes to be a part of the electrician apprenticeship program.

“I absolutely love the opportunities I get at the job,” Lammers said. “The role is always kind of growing and adapting, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Among the many things Lammers enjoys about her work is working with customers and generally educating the public about the work she does. Lammers said that when she gets on a job site she enjoys the opportunity to not only ease the minds of customers but help them realize their sustainability goals.

“I believe in all forms of sustainability and the renewable industry,” Lammers said. She added that she loves being able to bring her passion for being outside while working hard in a role within the renewable energy industry.

And though she has a deep appreciation for her role in the industry and the team she works with, the position is not without some challenges.

“I would say my biggest challenge, just being almost a decade older than most of the guys I work with on the roof, is just kind of the physical demand of the job,” Lammers said. She noted that there are days she doesn’t feel like getting on a roof, but she reminds herself how great it is to get to work outside. Good teamwork is essential when regulary working on roofs. As Lammers noted she has a fabulous team that trusts each other and has each other’s backs.

“I appreciate the wide variety of individuals that I get to work with in the renewables industry,” Lammers said. “The field crews, office staff, salespersons, and customers all bring their own experiences, expertise, and questions to every job we do and it’s incredible being able to learn from everyone involved. The renewables industry is an ever-growing field and there is always something new and exciting to learn about or adapt to our practices on the roof.”

Wisconsin Climate Action Navigators Visit Milwaukee Neighborhood Lindsay Heights

Wisconsin Climate Action Navigators Visit Milwaukee Neighborhood Lindsay Heights

On April 29 and 30, Wisconsin Climate Action Navigators (WI CAN) gathered in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society for its second quarterly meeting to establish how Navigators want to engage in climate action in across the state. 

WI CAN is a collective action initiative to create a network of change leaders who foster authentic community engagement to advance transformative climate action rapidly. The group, born out of the State of Wisconsin’s Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE) identified a gap in the outreach strategies, which is how the state is authentically engaging with communities. WI CAN seeks to inform the public through balanced and objective climate-related information. The organization hopes to empower the public to participate in policy discussions to create lasting change.

This meeting introduced Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) which leverages qualitative data produced through boots-on-the-ground interventions. WI CAN’s vision for transformative climate action explores how community engagement can lead to desired climate action and outlines how the OSCE team will analyze outcomes to quantify how climate action impacts Wisconsin communities.

As a statewide initiative, WICAN represents disadvantaged communities, individuals and organizations engaged in climate policy, experts in specific climate action sectors such as renewable energy, and prominent community leaders, like Trasus Wright and Pastor Teresa, both representing the Environmental Justice and Infrastructure Initiative (EJII). EJII and RENEW Wisconsin have been WI CAN members since its inception in January 2024. WI CAN invited EJII to represent communities of color in Milwaukee and to help ensure that their efforts are continuously grounded through an environmental justice lens.

For the quarterly meeting, WI CAN members traveled to Milwaukee’s northwest side for a resident-led tour of the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. 53205 and 53206, the zip codes that makeup Lindsay Heights are shown to be two of the poorest not only in Wisconsin but also in the country. 

The rampant levels of poverty in these zip codes are due to historical disinvestment and city planning initiatives which include building a highway through the neighborhood that forced community members out of their homes.

A highlight of the meeting was a Faith Alliance Network activity at Canaan Education Center. The Faith Alliance Network is a group of Milwaukee-based churches brought together by EJII to create grassroots connections related to environmental injustices in the community. Over dinner, WI CAN members heard testimonials from members of the Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) about how Lindsay Heights continues to grow despite the lack of resources. 

Personal accounts of inaccessibility to basic needs such as affordable food, housing, and electricity – and the community’s collective efforts to secure them for all residents – are part of Lindsay Height’s story and resonated with WI CAN members working and residing in the urban areas of Madison, rural members in Viroqua, and tribal members in Black River Falls. 

This was an organization-wide reminder that storytelling is a way to build alliances. The programming was an inspiration for the future collaboration among WI CAN members.

In closing statements, Pastor Teresa, a local pastor and community leader thanked the group for their “willingness to learn and uplift with the Lindsay Heights community” and celebrated its new connection with the Wisconsin Climate Action Navigators and their efforts to expand state-wide.

Submit Comments to the PSC and Show Support for Net Metering and Fair Solar Compensation Rates from Municipal Electric Utilities

Submit Comments to the PSC and Show Support for Net Metering and Fair Solar Compensation Rates from Municipal Electric Utilities

Sturgeon Bay Utilities (SBU) has filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to revise its parallel generation tariffs, significantly altering the way SBU compensates electric generation from its customers who go solar. SBU’s wholesale provider, WPPI Energy,  has stated that it intends to replicate these proposed changes with all of its municipal electric utilities in Wisconsin. Check here to see if your utility could be affected.

If accepted, SBU’s proposal would modify its net metering tariff so that excess generation at the end of each billing month would be subject to wholesale rates instead of retail rates. For larger solar installations (above 20 kilowatts), SBU proposes that all excess generation is subject to volatile wholesale prices, which are typically low and subject to annual changes.

RENEW Wisconsin is the only intervening party in the case and has submitted testimony arguing to preserve net metering and pay larger solar installations (at schools, hospitals, and businesses) at rates that reflect SBU’s avoided costs, which is defined as the amount the utility saves when their customers generate solar power. See RENEW’s direct testimony for details.

The PSC has opened up the public comment period in this case (docket 5780-TE-111). You have until the end of the day on May 9 to submit your comments to the PSC. Tell the PSC to ensure that there is an economic pathway for customers to go solar. We need to preserve net metering for all customers in Sturgeon Bay and the rest of Wisconsin and pay fair rates for larger customer-sited renewable facilities.

Electrifying Madison’s Bus Fleet

Electrifying Madison’s Bus Fleet

Within the next 12 months, the City of Madison plans to transition about a third of its 192-bus fleet to all-electric buses, a feat made possible through funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The transition is expected to improve riders’ experiences while maintaining overall services.

The new 60-foot buses, manufactured by New Flyer, boast a range of 152 miles and will be supported by charging station infrastructure installed at the end of each route. Riders can expect a quieter, emission-free ride without an increase in bus fare.

“Ultimately, what we wanted to make sure what happened was that the transition to electric did not impact service quality by limiting range or increasing downtime,” said Justin Stuehrenberg, City of Madison Metro Transit General Manager.

The drivers, the people making sure the buses get where they’re going, will also experience an upgrade in their experience with the buses. While training with the buses, drivers have quickly learned how to handle the additional length of 60-foot buses.

“It just took like two turns for me to get used to it, our brains are thinking this is a 60-foot bus, so I need to turn a little bit different,” said Nicodemus Braxton, Transit Operator and Operator Instructor. “I was really wide in those first two turns. I didn’t have to make the turns that wide, I could just make it like it’s a 40-foot bus. Actually, it turns a little bit better because it’s 30 feet and then 30 feet. You’re really just worried about the first 30 feet.”

Braxton noted that the drivers he has trained all had similar experiences, and many appreciate the upgrades that come with the new buses. Additional features like a quiet ride, brake interlock, and wheelchair securement system, to name a few, will improve the level of comfort and safety for riders and drivers alike.

Nicodemus Braxton on one of the new electric buses.

“The brake interlock is going to be really good for us,” Braxton said. He explained that the interlock, engaged by holding the brake for two seconds, locks the brakes, which will help drivers keep the bus in place on hills and prevent driver fatigue.

The new wheelchair securement system, known as Qstraint, will also make it easier for those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices to safely seat themselves on the bus without much assistance from the driver. This will help to give riders who use such devices more autonomy during their commutes.

Additional enhancements include a more spacious interior, the ability to enter the buses from any of their five doors, and interior bike storage.

These upgrades are all thanks to the $75 million in federal funding the city received through BIL and the FAST Act, which covered about 80% of the cost of the 62 electric buses. More than $48 million of those funds came through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program between 2020-2023. The program makes competitive grants available to states and direct recipients like the City of Madison for the purpose of purchasing, replacing, or rehabilitating buses and bus infrastructure, including changes and innovations focused on low and no-emission vehicles.

“46 of them (buses) are funded through the bus rapid transit project, which is federally funded,” Stuehrenberg said. “It’s an infrastructure project that also includes the buses, and so we were able to leverage the money we already had programmed for bus replacement…”

In 2023, the city was awarded $37.9 million through the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program, which paid for an additional 16 buses. Those 16 buses are meant to support high ridership routes along the university and campus area and some of the routes out to EPIC Systems in Verona.

These 62 buses were almost completely paid for through grants and will help the city save on fuel costs and, eventually, maintenance costs. The upfront costs of training staff as well as purchasing new tools and parts will cause an initial delay in costs savings from reduced maintenance, but a reduction in oil changes and other service work will ultimately save the city money.

In the meantime, the city continues to capitalize on the available BIL funding and has again applied for a grant in hopes of adding another 15 electric buses to its fleet. Earlier this year the FTA announced the availability of $1.5 billion in funding for the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program.

Electric buses may eventually be implemented on lower-frequency routes, once expected improvements to electric buse technology arrive on the market. This will allow for buses that can run full routes without the need for on-route charging infrastructure.

“Our hope is that over the next couple years is there will finally be a bus that can get through an entire day’s cycle on a single charge, and we won’t need to build those charging facilities,” Stuehrenberg said. “For now, our expectation is that these 62 will be the extent of what we can do with these high-frequency routes.”

Stuehrenberg noted that the city is considering adding additional hybrid buses to service the low-frequency routes.

A Novel Idea: Antigo Public Library’s Solar Project

A Novel Idea: Antigo Public Library’s Solar Project

On Saturday, April 27, the Antigo Public Library marked a historic milestone with a solar dedication ceremony, celebrating the installation of a solar array that sets a new standard for green initiatives in the community. Established in 1903, the Antigo Public Library serves all of Langlade County and its 20,000 residents.

The installation of solar panels aligns with the library’s mission to provide educational opportunities and promote sustainable practices. As the first public facility within 60 miles to feature solar energy, the Antigo Public Library will offer tours to community groups and area schools, showcasing the technology and its benefits. Their website will also display real-time energy generation and usage, furthering public awareness and education.

The library has consistently worked to reduce its carbon footprint, switching to LED lighting in 2018 and upgrading the HVAC system to digital controls in 2021. The 87-kilowatt (kW) solar array, installed by Northwind Solar, will generate 91,934 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.

The solar project was primarily financed through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Energy Innovation Grant Program, which awarded the library $230,000 covering 75% of project costs. The library also received a $10,000 grant from Solar for Good, further supporting this initiative. 

This project not only underscores the library’s commitment to sustainability but also serves as an educational tool for the community. The $8,000 annual savings on electricity costs will be reinvested into library programming and services, including public tours of the facility. 

Former Library Director Dominic Frandup highlighted the importance of this project, noting that rising operational costs made it imperative to explore sustainable solutions. “Investing in solar energy emerged as a strategic decision, an investment in both the library’s future and the community’s sustainability. By reducing our reliance on conventional energy sources, the library saves utility expenses, which frees up resources to enhance essential services and programs for our patrons.”

The Antigo Public Library’s solar project represents a groundbreaking effort in the region, highlighting the library’s role as a leader in sustainability and innovation. By integrating solar energy, the library not only reduces its environmental impact but also provides a practical example of renewable energy in action for the community. This initiative underscores the library’s commitment to advancing educational opportunities and promoting environmental stewardship.

Powering a Brighter Future at Centro Hispano

Powering a Brighter Future at Centro Hispano

Photo Credit: Hedi Rudd

On Friday, April 26, 2024, Centro Hispano of Dane County, a cornerstone of support and empowerment for the Latinx community in Madison, celebrated a milestone: the installation of a solar array at their new facility on Madison’s south side. Established in 1983 initially to assist Cuban refugees, Centro Hispano has grown into a vital community hub, providing youth programs, family services, and community engagement initiatives.

Centro’s mission is to build a future where Latinx families in Dane County can aspire upward, reaching their goals and dreams because they feel strengthened with the tools for success. As the leading nonprofit organization serving the Latinx population in the county, Centro empowers youth, strengthens families, and fosters community engagement through a wide range of programs.

The decision to install solar panels at their new facility highlights Centro’s commitment to sustainability and community education. The 67.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array, installed by Westphal & Company Inc., comprised of 135 panels, will generate approximately 86,290 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, offsetting 36% of the facility’s energy use. This initiative is part of a broader sustainability strategy, which includes a ground-source heat pump HVAC system to further reduce energy consumption.

The solar project is made possible in part through the Solar for Good and the MadiSUN Backyard Solar Program, emphasizing the importance of equitable access to sustainable systems and fostering conversations about sustainability. This project is an opportunity to make history by demonstrating how equity and sustainability can coexist and thrive together. Centro Hispano’s solar initiative not only showcases its commitment to environmental stewardship but also serves as an educational tool for youth programs, workforce development, and the broader community.

Centro Hispano’s solar project is more than just an effort to reduce energy costs; it represents a significant step towards integrating sustainable practices within communities of color. By harnessing solar power, Centro provides a powerful example of how renewable energy can support and uplift historically underserved populations. The solar array will be used as a teaching tool, offering workshops and educational signage to engage and inform the community.

As Centro Hispano celebrates 40 years of service, the solar initiative marks a significant advancement in its mission to empower Latinx families and strengthen community resilience. By embracing solar energy, Centro is reducing its environmental footprint and setting a precedent for sustainable development and community engagement. This commitment to sustainability ensures that Centro Hispano will continue to be a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come.