solar panels
Photo provided by The Depot

Installing 338 solar panels has enabled The Depot MCC Resource Center in Goshen to cut their monthly electricity bills in half.  

MCC Thrift Shops already care for God’s creation by reselling used clothing and household items that might otherwise go to the landfill. The Depot MCC Resource Center in Goshen, Indiana, took it a step further by installing 338 solar panels. In the time since, the monthly electricity bills of the 62,000 square foot building have been cut in half.  

“The project was a priority to help reduce energy cost over the long haul,” said Dan Williams, The Depot facilities manager. The solar collectors should pay for themselves in about 10 years’ time.

But more than just a cost-savings, reducing the building’s carbon footprint was a large incentive in the project. Over the long run, the system is expected to reduce the building’s overall energy consumption by half. The Depot is home to the MCC Thrift Shops, MCC Great Lakes office and MCC Material Resources Center.

MCC is committed to caring for God’s creation, with a vision to see communities worldwide reconciled to God, one another and creation. One of MCC’s key operating principles is “acting sustainably.”

As of October, the Depot has saved around $10,000 in electricity costs and produced 19120 KWH of electricity with the collectors. While northern Indiana isn’t known for its abundance of sunny days, the panels themselves have micro-inverters which allow individual panels to work independently therefore making the system more productive and reliable despite shadows.

“We spend a lot on energy to heat and cool the building,” said Loanne Harms, Depot board member and former board chair. “Solar seemed like a responsible alternative.”

After gathering information and researching installers, the board voted unanimously to move ahead with the project. According to Williams, the process went as smoothly as they could have hoped.

In addition to the solar panels, the process of converting all florescent light fixtures in the building to LED bulbs is over halfway completed. The new LED lights use less than half the energy needed for the older fluorescent bulbs. The Depot also recently replaced one of the HVAC units for the MCC Thrift Shop, using a smaller unit and an economizer to reduce power consumption.

Recycling is a big part of regular operations at The Depot as well. Large amounts of cardboard and some metals including aluminum, brass, copper and lead are all recycled.

When asked how these projects fit with MCC’s missions, Harms replied, “Using less fossil fuels, being wise stewards and saving money so we can give more to MCC’s work overseas.”

Williams would recommend installing solar panels for other thrift shops and MCC entities interested in reducing energy costs and using green energy.

For more information about ways MCC U.S. is caring for God’s creation: mcc.org/stories/seven-ways-mcc-us-caring-gods-creation.

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