Temple Am-David shines as pioneer for solar energy use in city


Temple Am-David is headed in an eco-friendly direction thanks to some help from Klinkman Solar Design and Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light (RIIPL). The temple will soon be the recipient of a “Solar Saver” heating and hot water system courtesy of Paul Klinkman, owner of KSD, RIIPL, volunteers and an environmental grant.

Am-David’s Rabbi Richard Perlman, who is also on the board for RIIPL, is looking forward to being able to practice what he preaches about green energy.

“We’re overwhelmed to be doing this,” he said. “We’re acting as a model and I’m proud to do this.”

Already the Temple has taken steps to reduce its energy consumption and was audited last year. Perlman said they’ve slashed their electric bill by taking small steps like replacing older light bulbs with more energy-efficient models.

Perlman said Mayor Scott Avedisian expressed his pride at a gathering at the temple to celebrate the coming “solar system” earlier this month.

“He’s very proud of what we’re doing,” said Perlman. “We’re way ahead of everyone else in the city. We need to get everyone else to jump onboard”

Avedisian said it was gratifying to see so many great people come together for the right reasons.

“It’s a wonderful cooperative effort,” said Liberty Goodwin, Klinkman’s wife. “We want to work entirely with small businesses and local distributors.”

RIIPL partnered with the Open Table of Christ Methodist Church and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to provide the Temple with the solar saver technology for free. Open Table is using their community steward program to find volunteers to install the system, and the Grassroots Environmental Fund provided the initial grant money for installation.

Paul Klinkman, co-owner of the Klinkman Solar Design (KSD), designed the “solar saver” model. The system includes solar panels, in-ground heat storage, and a special mount that bypasses the difficulties of traditional roof installation.

According to KSD the cost is competitive with natural gas, oil and propane heating systems, and they can retrofit most buildings.

The “solar saver” system works with air that is pumped through a closed circuit of multiple solar heat collectors. The air is transferred to rockbed storage where water is heated in pipes with copper fins. Heated water is then pumped to an existing hot water tank or through existing baseboard radiator pipes.

Though KSD admits that hot air is not as efficient as hot water, they say it saves on maintenance expenses like freezing, boiling, rot and rust.

A typical installation, which costs about $15,000, will replace 80-percent of fuel with solar power. Based on a $4/gallon cost of heating oil, KSD said savings for a homeowner in New England could be $1250/year. Larger complexes could see a greater return in their investment.

But current solar power technology cannot replace traditional home heating methods entirely.

KSD said that because solar power fluctuates, as do heating needs, solar power could only provide 50 to 90 percent of heating needs. Because of this, most solar heating systems must be combined with traditional heating systems to cover the remainder of the client’s heating needs.

Construction on Temple Am-David’s “solar saver” system has not begun yet, but because KSD will be retrofitting the temple, the project should only take about a month to complete.


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