Greater Philadelphia Expo Center adds solar array

The switch has been flipped on a solar rooftop array at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Upper Providence Township.

Officials from Montgomery County and the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board joined the Expo Center for a ceremonial “flip the switch” ceremony on Friday.

“The solar panels installed across our roof are projected to generate enough energy to power the 140-plus events held here each year at the facility,” Pam Derderian, CEO, 15 Minutes Inc. and Expo Center spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Derderian added that any surplus power will be delivered back into the power grid to provide energy for local businesses and home.

According to information from the Expo Center, the project cost $3 million and is expected to show a return on investment within eight years.

This solar project ranks second in Montgomery County for DC current capacity and 12th overall in the state at over 1.2 megawatts. Although the Expo Center’s solar arrays are meant for commercial use, they are large enough to equip 200 homes, according to a press release.

“This is about our evolution as a company — and our progression as a better corporate citizen,” added Derderian. “We are committed to the sustainable-energy movement and enhancing the quality of life in our community and in our country for future generations, and we’re pleased to align with Montgomery County’s sustainability efforts.”

The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center held a ceremonial switch flip Feb. 24 to mark the launch of its rooftop solar array. In this photo, left to right are: Ken Lawrence, chairman, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; Keith Peltzman, founder and president, Independence Solar; Lisa Karl, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board vice president of sales & strategic partnerships; Pam Derderian, 15 Minutes Inc. and Expo Center spokeswoman; and Mike Bowman, president & CEO Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board. (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL O’NEILL)

On hand at the Expo Center for the event — which was held in conjunction with the opening day of the Philly Home and Garden Show — was Ken Lawrence, chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners.

“Sustainability is a key goal of the county, and we are actively engaged in reducing our carbon footprint and supporting the next generation of workers in the clean energy economy,” he said in a statement.

Montgomery County contains more than 3,000 solar energy systems able to generate more than 40 megawatts of electricity, the release stated.

In 2019, the county passed a Commitment to Sustainable Operations resolution, which set a goal of transitioning to 100% clean, renewable electricity for county-owned assets by 2035 and to transition to 100% renewable energy for heat and transportation by 2050, the release stated.

As it pursues the goal, the county created an initiative, the Energy Resiliency and Sustainability program, for county facilities and operations.

“We know more travelers are expressing an interest in frequenting eco-friendly destinations so we’re working together with our partners to promote environmentally responsible initiatives, and this provides us with an opportunity to send a message to event planners that we are a destination focused on the future,” Lisa Karl, vice president of sales and strategic partnerships for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, said in a statement.

Karl added that to support the agency’s commitment to the initiative, it is collaborating on a multiyear strategic plan that will include research, education, web content and maps, collecting and developing visual assets, advertising to target markets, print collateral and digital brochures, digital marketing, social media promotion and public relations.

According to Karl, More than 50% of travelers surveyed said environmental and sustainable considerations are essential when planning travel. In addition, a recent AMEX survey said 83% of respondents take sustainability into account when planning meetings and events.

The Philly Expo Center hosts entertainment, consumer shows and events that have attracted more than 10 million visitors in the past 14 years to the center, which boasts up to 240,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Among the events have been Cirque du Soleil and The National Dog Show, which has been held at the center for the past 21 years.

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