Friends Homes Inc. (Friends), a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) operator in North Carolina, recently announced a partnership with FLS Energy for installation of 208 solar thermal collector panels in its two continuing care retirement communities, Friends Homes at Guilford and Friends Homes West. As one of the largest ever installed solar thermal systems in a retirement community in the United States, the project will create 10,000 gallons of solar heated water each day for nine of Friends Homes’ buildings and facilities. The solar thermal facilities will be roof mounted to the selected facilities requiring about 12,480 sq. ft. of roof space and will reduce carbon emissions by almost 150 tons per year and will save approximately $30,000.00 per year in fossil fuel cost. Construction is slated to begin in April with completion projected for September. FLS Energy is financing the solar thermal project at Friends Homes through its Solar Energy Purchase Agreement.
The solar project, which will be metered, comes with a “performance guarantee” from FLS Energy of the amount of solar energy that will be generated each year. Duke Energy is purchasing renewable energy credits from this solar energy system to meet North Carolina’s renewable energy mandates. FLS Energy will also be responsible for all maintenance of the system. Completion of the solar hot water project in September will establish Friends Homes as one of the most sustainable continuing care retirement communities in the United States.
Wilson Sheldon, CEO, of Friends Homes Inc., said, “It is our belief that we must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. Installing these solar thermal units in our retirement communities means taking a major step in our commitment to utilizing renewable energy. Not only do we want to be good stewards of the environment, but also, we are looking for ways to contain costs so that our communities remain affordable.”
“This project will establish Friends Home as one of the strongest leaders in North Carolina for developing clean renewable energy for their facilities,” said FLS Energy’s Finance Director, Brownie Newman. “Friends Homes paid nothing upfront and will begin seeing the savings immediately.”