Here Comes the Sun

The Ripple Effect

Walt Mintkeski is changing the world — and inspiring others to join him.


"After retirement, I decided my new career is as a philanthropist, and my benefactor is our Earth.”

Walt Mintkeski
Nature Conservancy volunteer

For years, Walt Mintkeski had dreamed of installing solar panels on his house. A retired environmental engineer and longtime Conservancy volunteer, he'd dedicated his life to protecting the planet. Harnessing the sun's clean power seemed like a no-brainer.

Then his father passed away, and inheritance brought his dream within reach. But, admiring the trees surrounding his home, Mintkeski thought, “Wow. That's a lot of shade. Maybe this isn't the most efficient way for me to help the environment or the best use of my dad's hard earned money.”

That's when he thought about The Nature Conservancy's three-story office building in southeast Portland.

The Nature Conservancy has helped protect over 505,000 acres of important habitats in Oregon. Our work doesn't stop there, though: we're committed to incorporating sustainability into our statewide operations as well.

And thanks to Mintkeski's ongoing vision and support, our commitment to nature now includes an array of efficient, photovoltaic awnings.

“My father was very generous to me,” Mintkeski said. “So, I'm passing on his generosity to a cause I greatly believe in. I've loved the outdoors since my family spent summers boating off New York's Shelter Island. After retirement, I decided my new career is as a philanthropist, and my benefactor is our Earth.”

Installed on the south side of the Conservancy's office building located at 821 SE 14th Avenue, the photovoltaic array is designed to soak up as much sun as possible. Combined with roof panels installed in 1998, the new awnings will produce about 10 Kw of power in full sunlight, enough to supply about 10% of the office's annual electricity use. A typical home uses about 3 Kw.

Shading from the awnings is an added benefit, reducing the need for air conditioning. Designed by Cascade Solar Consulting and EC Company, this eco-friendly energy system will provide full shade over windows at mid-day for four months, mid-April to mid-August.

“The Nature Conservancy is extremely grateful for Walt's generous support and guidance,” said Russell Hoeflich, vice president and Oregon director. “Not only is he helping us protect Oregon's natural wonders by increasing our use of clean power, he's also given us a great opportunity to educate the community about solar power and what's happening to our planet. We really can't thank him enough.”

If you'd like to learn more about our solar power awnings, installation site visits are available by appointment for groups of up to 20 people. Please call us at (503) 802-8100. Also, energy production is continually tracked online.

Design and installation completed by Cliff Schrock and Robin Rabiroff of EC Company.

Protect What You Love

Forests, Rivers, Lakes, Mountains and the Ocean—they're what make Oregon great. 

Ashland Watershed


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