North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Marysville YMCA goes green


Courtesy of YMCA

Snohomish County PUD, local business and YMCA officials stand next to solar panels installed at the Marysville YMCA. From left to right, Snohomish County PUD project manager Leslie Moynihan, executive director of Marysville/North County YMCA Mary Bredereck, director of property development Tom Browne and NW Wind & Solar general manager Kevin Charap.

The Marysville YMCA recently completed installation of multiple solar panels, which also marks the beginning of their environmental education program that debuts later this year.

The installation came as part of a grant from Snohomish County PUD's Planet Power program and provides a chance for the local YMCA to be local leaders in the area of renewable energy, said Mary Bredereck, executive director of the Marysville/North County Family YMCA.

For the YMCA, the idea began when former YMCA board member Bob Graef pushed for the local facility to explore alternative energy sources.

Officials explored a lot of options and did preliminary studies on their roof to check for feasibility, said Bredereck.

"It was too expensive to do at the time, but then [Snohomish County PUD's] Planet Power program came up and it was a great opportunity for us," she said.

The Planet Power program allows Snohomish County PUD customers to contribute a little extra on their bill to invest in sustainable energy for community projects.

"Our customers often have a strong interest in wind and solar, but they may not have a house or a building to support that kind of investment. This helps give people a way to support sustainable energy," said Neil Neroutsos, director of media relations at Snohomish County PUD.

About 2,000 PUD customers support the program each month, according to Neroutsos.

The PUD looks for partners that can use a solar energy project to benefit the community through energy savings, and have installed solar panels on schools, non-profit organizations and one city hall.

In total, the Planet Power program has funded 29 projects, with several more planned in 2015, said Neroutsos.

The Marysville YMCA solar panels are expected to produce around 10,000 kilowatt hours annually, yielding a cost savings of approximately $900 per year, plus an additional $1,000 from a refund for giving back energy to the grid, said Bredereck.

Snohomish PUD also hopes that grant winners will be able to provide education about the benefits that solar energy provides.

"The site gets many visitors during the year, which allows the YMCA to develop community education programs to help promote solar energy," said Neroutsos.

The Marysville YMCA is working with Jayne Joyner, a branch board member and instructor at Everett Community College, on developing a curriculum focused on sustainability.

"This was just a natural way to reach out to the community and a great opportunity," said Bredereck.

Children will be learning about carbon footprints and the importance of environmental sustainability.

"I hope [the children] gain awareness and curiosity. That they're better able to think outside themselves about how to make a better earth for all of us and the small things they can do to make that happen," said Bredereck.

The Marysville YMCA's environmental programs could be integrated into their summer camp programs, said Bredereck, but if they aren't including in the facility's summer offerings they will "definitely" be in their fall programs.


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