Over 5000 Trees and Counting: Our Commitment to Net Zero

Read about the Seattle Program Center's recent solar success, an important milestone in our work toward Net Zero.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 22, 2024
Over 5000 Trees and Counting: Our Commitment to Net Zero
Solar panels on the roof of the Seattle Program Center.

Buildings contribute a significant amount to global CO2 emissions, and Mountaineers facilities are no exception. As an organization that cares deeply about healthy lands and waters, we have a unique obligation to aggressively reduce our impact on the environment and respond to the climate crisis. While we do this through public lands advocacy, stewardship, and low-impact recreation practices, we still emit thousands of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions through our operations. Throughout the development of our strategic plan, Adventure with Purpose, we consistently heard from volunteers and donors that we need to make faster progress toward reducing our organization’s carbon footprint. In 2020, we formalized our commitment to this important work through the creation of our organizational climate statement.

Thanks to generous donors and hard-working volunteers, we installed 271 solar panels on the roof of The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center in January 2019, converting sunlight into resource-saving energy. It’s been more than five years since the solar panels were switched on and, simply put, the numbers speak for themselves.


On May 15, 2024, we officially crossed over the 5000-tree threshold of trees planted based on the carbon emissions saved from our solar panels. Well… 5002, to be exact. And today, May 22, 2024, we're already at the equivalent of 5029 trees planted. 27 trees in one week, and counting!

rattlesnake ledge 1 - KAhrens.jpgTrees on Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo by Kym Ahrens. 

How much CO2 emissions have we saved, you ask? So far, we've saved a total of 662,846.88 pounds of CO2 from being emitted by the Seattle Program Center, which is roughly 300 metric tons (or the weight of 300 great white sharks). 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average vehicle emits about 0.89 pounds of CO2 per mile. The average commute to and from work is 16 miles, emitting roughly 14 pounds of CO2. Since 2019, the Seattle Program Center’s solar panels saved equivalent carbon entering the atmosphere to 46,548 round trip commutes to work and home. 

Want to continue tracking the Seattle Program Center's progress? Visit our account page at SolarEdge for by-the-minute updates on how much solar energy we're currently generating, and have generated since our array came online. 


We’ve committed to the ambitious goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions from direct organizational impacts. With additional resources, we can make progress toward our net zero goal through future energy-reduction projects at our Seattle Program Center, including heat pumps, temperature control, heat pump hot water heaters, and more. 

Heat Pumps
Topping our list of next projects to be funded is the installation of heat pumps to heat and cool the Seattle Program Center. There is currently no air conditioning in the SPC’s Goodman or Cascade conference rooms. These heat pumps will replace natural gas heating units on the roof, along with the current air conditioning units. The eight heat pumps needed for this project will yield 53 tons of total cooling capacity and full air conditioning for the Goodman and Cascade conference rooms.

Saving Energy Through Temperature Control
The Seattle Program Center’s current ventilation system leads to wasted heat and cool air. Incoming fresh air now must be heated (or cooled) from ambient outside temperature to the room temperature using natural gas. Installing four Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) to replace the current roof dampers will save energy to maintain the building’s temperature. ERVs are heat exchangers that transfer the heat (or cool) from the stale air to fresh, incoming air and warms it before it is discharged to the room.

Hot Water
Installing new heat pump hot water heaters will more efficiently power the Seattle Program Center’s bathrooms and linen laundry room. This upgrade will likely double or triple the energy efficiency of the basement’s existing electric heating.

Philanthropic investment from our members will be critical to fund ongoing efforts to reduce The Mountaineers carbon footprint. If you’re inspired to help us reach our goal of net zero carbon emissions, we hope you’ll consider a donation to our Carbon Footprint Reduction Fund.