Associated Solar Farms Make Jewish Organizations More Sustainable


In its latest step towards operating more sustainably, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore has teamed up with energy solutions company MD Energy Advisors and decarbonization-as-a-service platform Luminace to install rooftop solar farms in Baltimore.

(Courtesy of Jamie Levin)

First announced in 2021 and recently completed, these farms will provide more renewable energy to offset the energy use of Associated-related community organizations as part of the group’s Climate Action Plan.

The farms have been a long time coming, said Jason Schwartzberg, MD Energy Advisors president and co-founder. MDEA has worked with The Associated in the past to help the group save money on their energy bills and operate more efficiently, with the solar farms being the latest landmark of their partnership.

“Historically, these projects take a long time, just like real estate development projects do,” Schwartzberg explained. “The reason this one took even longer is that there are a lot of building moratoriums on off-site solar projects around the state. … We were ultimately able to build it on a large industrial rooftop in Baltimore City, and we didn’t have to encumber land to put the solar project on it.”

The facility cost $4.5 million to build and is projected to produce four megawatts of power each year — supporting a little under half of The Associated’s total electric demand across all their properties. A metering system measures the amount of electricity that the solar farms produce and puts into the power grid, with the total being discounted from The Associated organizations’ total electricity usage.

“By building and participating in this solar farm, we offset the demand on the electric grid, which in theory reduces the need to produce more power and carbon emissions,” explained Ben Gershowitz, vice president of facilities at The Associated. “We’re offsetting our energy consumption with solar power, so it decreases our carbon footprint.”

The Associated has always been dedicated to doing business in a more green and environmentally friendly manner. The organization is one of the founding members of the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, a group that was started by the national Jewish environmental organization Adamah — headquartered at the Pearlstone Center, an agency of The Associated.

Several other Jewish community organizations will be benefiting from the solar farms and will be able to source energy from it for their operations. These include the Edward A. Myerberg Center, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Jewish Community Services and the JCC of Greater Baltimore, among others.

As part of their Climate Action Plan, an outline all members of the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition are required to draft, The Associated has stressed its commitment to eventually using solar power to offset 100% of its utilities. Some of their other efforts to operate more sustainably include planting trees and offering educational programs that focus on the environment.

“The Associated system has long prided itself and been publicly recognized as a leader in environmental and sustainability efforts,” said Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated. “The addition of green power from solar is not only advancing organizational value, but will have a clear positive economic impact on our system as well.”

There are several other Jewish organizations and synagogues in the area that have begun to utilize solar power — Chizuk Amuno Congregation installed 150 solar panels in 2021, for example. The Associated’s solar farms differ from these projects because they do not directly provide electricity but instead contribute toward offsetting the electricity costs of many different Associated organizations.

“We never looked into putting solar panels directly on our roofs, because our roofs weren’t new enough,” Gershowitz said. “So it doesn’t produce energy to be directly used by The Associated, but it helps replace the energy we consume in our operations.”

The benefits of the solar farms are not just environmental, but financial. MDEA has proposed that the offsite solar farms will enable The Associated to save in energy costs, in addition to cutting energy transportation and delivery costs.

“By making the commitment to buy the power, it allows them to purchase more renewable energy,” Schwartzberg said. “It should be a substantial reduction in costs for their energy needs going forward.”

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here