From Books to Solar: How One Library Is Empowering Their Community to Reuse

The BQuest Foundation is fighting the climate crisis by funding projects and partnering with organizations that reduce carbon emissions and expand the use of renewable energy in support of sustainable, resilient communities. We build solar installations for non-profits because it not only reduces carbon emissions but also saves them money on their utility costs. These savings can then be put back into serving their communities through their programs and services and allow us to achieve multiple layers of impact: environmental, financial, and social.

BQuest has developed a toolbox of funding strategies to help unlock solar savings for non-profits and affordable multifamily housing. One tool is to offer grants for very small projects or those with existing funding support that still need help reaching their goal. We want to keep projects from stalling and, more importantly, show support to smaller organizations that are taking the lead to harness the power of the sun for economic and environmental sustainability!

Image courtesy of Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library

Reduce, Reuse, Renew

Once upon a time, a library in the village of Trempealeau, Wisconsin decided to reduce their carbon footprint and inspire their community of neighbors to do the same. As a lending library, the value of the idea of reuse has been a part of Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library since its beginning and because of that, they have created the Renew initiative. Renew’s aim is to make sustainable, energy-conserving changes to the Library’s footprint—and to encourage and educate their neighbors to consider energy-efficient ways that they can also Renew their homes and businesses to make a more resilient future for Trempealeau. 

In an interview, the library’s Director Jessica Schoonover shared, 

“As a trusted resource in our community, we are known to think outside the box and dream big as we consider the myriad ways we can serve the village of Trempealeau and our surrounding townships. Our community has enjoyed and taken advantage of this idea of borrowing instead of purchasing, and we’ve taken the conversation even further with programming about eliminating single-use plastics and helping our environment by becoming citizen scientists.”

Finding the Funding

The library was determined to make the solar installation a reality, but finances were the key consideration taken into account during the planning phase. Schoonover shared,

“It was very important to me that if we were going to do this project, we were going to have to fund it completely with grants and incentives. I did not want any of our operating budget or capital budget to go to this project knowing that not every taxpayer would be supportive of this choice.”

This commitment led them to the Solar Moonshot Program, a nationwide initiative managed by Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation and funded by donors, including the BQuest Foundation, which addresses climate and environmental justice concerns by assisting non-profit organizations that lack funding to complete their transition to clean energy.

With their final piece of grant funding in hand, the library jumped at the chance to get started on their project.

Image courtesy of Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library

Solar Savings Grow

Since the electrification of their solar panels in March 2023, the library has seen significant results. In just three months, they saved $944 compared to their energy bills from the previous year. That’s like, a gazillion late book return fees! It also allowed the library to produce more energy than it consumes, making it an empowered example of sustainability for the community. The environmental impacts of the project are also big—equating to 804,101 pounds of coal burned over 25 years or 124 homes’ electricity use per year. 

The community has been nothing short of supportive. To celebrate and keep the conversations going, Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library hosted a solar open house and even inspired some village residents to decide to install solar panels on their own homes.

And they’re not stopping at solar panels. The library also hosted an electric vehicle car show, installed a rain garden with native plants, and became a certified Monarch Waystation to model good land stewardship through sustainable landscaping.

Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library shows how the nonprofits and organizations serving our communities can reinvest solar savings towards their missions, but just as importantly, they can stand as a beacon of hope and an example leading the way towards a more sustainable future. 

Image courtesy of Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library

Need Some Sunshine for Your Nonprofit?

To date, the Solar Moonshot Program has:

  • Helped 127 organizations across 28 states and Puerto Rico go solar
  • Deployed 5,562.08 kW of solar
  • Offset 138,630.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of the amount of greenhouse gas from
    • 343,921,391 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle,
    • carbon dioxide emissions from 152,773,807 pounds of coal burned,
    • carbon sequestered from 2,291,664 urban tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

To learn more about the Solar Moonshot Program or to apply for a grant, visit:


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