Tybee Island Marine Science Center is located along the sunny coastline of Georgia, serving the community through tours of their brand-new facility, educational outreach, and animal conservation programs. Unlike traditional aquariums and nature centers, most of the sea turtles, corn snakes, alligators, fresh and saltwater fish, and other creatures housed at the Center are only there until they can be released back into the wild.

But keeping marine tenants healthy at the Center, even temporarily, posed a seemingly permanent problem—the energy demand from 20+ display tanks outfitted with heating and filtration systems is nothing to shake a fin at. Running just two large outdoor tanks in winter could easily cost up to $200 per day.

The Center started looking into sustainable, energy-efficient solutions that they always taught to visitors but didn’t have the funds to implement themselves. They applied for and received two matching grants through Southface Institute’s GoodUse program. Becoming a GoodUse grantee gave Tybee Island Marine Science Center the resources and guidance to fully invest in solar energy and significantly reduce their energy burden.

GoodUse technical experts oversaw the installation of 56 photovoltaic solar panels in the Center’s new picnic pavilion area and eight thermal solar panels that capture and use the heat from the sun—and the upgrade is already paying off. Since October 2022, Tybee Island Marine Science Center has already saved over $484 on utility costs.

The savings will only continue to grow, allowing the GoodUse grantee to put mission-critical funds back into educational programming, conservation, and new infrastructure. These solar projects also demonstrate the depth of the Center’s commitment to the health of Georgia’s coastal communities.

Tybee Island Marine Science Center Executive Director Chantal Audran shared, “The common misconception and worry is that it’s impossible for a nonprofit to execute such an expensive project at their facilities. But with the help of Southface’s GoodUse program, even small nonprofits can have that opportunity. They make it feasible.

After a lot of hard work from Solar Sun World and the GoodUse team, Tybee Island Marine Science Center will continue to be a shining beacon of conservation, clean energy, and sustainability education on Georgia’s shore.

 

Stories like these unfold every day because of the dedication of local nonprofits and Southface’s GoodUse program.

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