July Community Member Spotlight: John Kondos
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
As the sun shines down on the Monadnock Region, one community member continues to dedicate his career to harvesting its energy for the benefit of our future and our wallets! For over 45 years, John Kondos of Chesterfield, NH, has transformed countless organizations, businesses, and residences to be more sustainable and efficient.
Kondos first became interested in the potential of renewable energy when he moved from his home of Plymouth, Massachusetts to pursue a master’s degree in business outside of Phoenix, Arizona, also referred to as the “Valley of the Sun”. Kondos was fascinated by the free fuel resource of solar energy and studied the best technologies and approaches to harvesting solar for fuel.
Following his degree, he worked as a contractor in the renewable energy industry in Massachusetts. Utilizing his master’s degree, he launched his international career, embarking on worldwide travels to survey solar markets, establishing distribution networks, and selling and installing photovoltaics (PV) for two PV manufacturers.
Kondos smiles in front of solar panels at the H-ER office. (Image Credit: John Kondos)
Kondos looks back at this exciting time in his career fondly. He installed solar systems in Southeast Asia in countries such as the Maldives and Indonesia and notes the countries of Nepal and Brazil as highlights of his career travels. During this time, Kondos contributed to the World Health Organization (WHO) Cold Chain, installing off-grid solar refrigerator/freezers for vaccine storage in remote areas. Kondos also built a distribution network in Latin America for PV products made in America.
Throughout his career, Kondos has seen and experienced a significant amount of growth in the renewable energy sector, citing that when he first began selling PV modules, the wholesale cost was $50/watt, compared to less than $1/watt today. He also notes that efficiency has improved drastically.
Between his travels, he built a solar powered cabin in southern Vermont, eventually moving to the area to work for a paper company. Kondos has installed PV systems on three continents and solar water heaters in MA, NH and VT.
After several years in other industries, Kondos founded Home-Efficiency Resources (H-ER) to provide energy auditing and added solar in 2007, establishing the Solar Source division of H-ER. Solar Source designed and installed solar hot water and PV systems from Mt Monadnock, NH to Mt. Snow, VT. After selling the Solar Source division to a commercial roofing firm Kondos retired.
In January 2008, Kondos was part of a group of community members who met to discuss how to promote sustainability in the Monadnock region. The group chose to focus on community education and building a network of individuals, businesses, and organizations in our region. From this, the Monadnock Sustainability Network (MSN) was born. During this time, Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD) District Manager Amanda Littleton joined the MSN as a board member and served as board secretary.
Community solar was an emerging option to provide wider solar access and an effort across the river in Vermont sparked the idea for the Community Supported Solar (CSS) project in 2013. The first Monadnock region Community Supported Solar project, provided the Monadnock Food Co-op with a solar system in 2016 owned by local investors. The Co-op recently purchased this after the required 6-year period. Next a CSS project for farmers brought together farmers, investors, and champions to use the available financial models to help local farms to become part of the renewable energy economy.
Farmers in New Hampshire face significant energy expenses to run their businesses. This project helps to stabilize and lower costs of electricity for participating farms through the Community Supported Solar framework and in turn, increase the viability of those farms.
Farmers that invest in CSS, net-meter solar from a solar array which has been installed at Sun Moon Farm in Rindge, NH. Kondos and MSN collaborated with CCCD and partners to launch the CSS for farmers project which came on line in 2020.
CSS Solar Array at Sun Moon Farm in Rindge, NH (Image Credit: John Kondos)
This exciting opportunity would not have been possible without the expertise of Kondos, who was instrumental in making this idea a reality for our region’s farmers.
Kondos notes that CSS is a great deal for farmers, our region, and our future. He states,
“The farmers access solar energy, which is free fuel, at a very low cost. They can access it without having to buy a solar system, and figure out where to put it, since some farms don’t have a good solar site. The costs for a small solar system are a lot higher. So, we put this big solar system in, and we’ve raised a lot of money to help them. They are getting subsidized access to solar at a deep discount”.
Kondos notes the natural pairing between solar and our region’s farmers. The solar array harvests the sun's energy, saving on space and fuel costs. Kondos remarks,
“It’s a natural thing, what are farmers? They are harvesters! Now they can also harvest the sun’s energy through CSS”.
Through a recent crowdfunding campaign hosted on The Local Crowd Monadnock, and the support of our incredible community, CSS was able to raise $17,862 to lower costs for farmers to participate and purchase a share. Solar shares are now available at a saving of 21%!
“Why do I think solar is so great? The simplest answer that appeals to everyone is free fuel once you pay for the initial cost. It’s like buying an oil furnace, except with an oil furnace you have to pay for the furnace first and then pay for the fuel. In this case, you buy an electric generator, upfront, and then it provides electricity for decades for free once you pay off that initial cost. For an individual to buy a solar system, it's a lot more money… That's the beauty of Community Supported Solar, you own a piece of a local solar system, and you don't have all that initial upfront cost and you don't have to worry about where you install it”.
Kondos cares deeply about our community and our future. Since retirement, he has continued to be involved in several organizations, sharing his expertise to save individuals and business money, while promoting sustainability and efficiency.
In 2018, Kondos joined a group of community members who met to focus on reducing greenhouse gasses in our region. From these discussions, the Monadnock Energy Hub (MEH) was born, and chose the Monadnock Sustainability Network (MSN) as its fiscal sponsor.
In 2020, these groups merged to form the Monadnock Sustainability Hub (MSH), which focuses on transportation (our largest source of greenhouse gasses) and clean energy. Prior to and throughout the merger, Kondos served as President for nine years. He led the electric vehicle and efficiency initiatives including hosting Drive Electric events, pursuing electric police cars and the development of the first public fast charging station in the region at the Monadnock Food Co-op.
Climate change mitigation, avoiding and reducing emissions of heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere has long been a motivator for Kondos in this work. In addition to mitigation, Kondos finds motivation in ensuring a safe future for our community. Kondos states,
“Every gallon of gas you burn, puts 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That sits in the atmosphere for decades, and just makes us a little warmer. The world is going to be far more expensive and dangerous and is already becoming that. That’s the legacy we are leaving our children and future children.
Kondos notes that for centuries the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules in the atmosphere was at 280 parts per million (PPM); it passed the safe level of 350 parts per million or PPM in his lifetime. As we burn more fossil fuels that number has risen, trapping heat that otherwise would escape from our atmosphere. As of May 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Mauna Loa Observatory cites the current levels of CO2 at 420.99 PPM. Greenhouse gas emissions are the leading driver of climate change.
In 2022, in order to help others to be a part of the solution, Kondos restarted Home-Efficiency Resources (H-ER), with the mission to reduce greenhouse gasses in local businesses and communities. H-ER builds on Kondos’ experience with continuous improvement, by pursuing better processes, waste reductions and efficiency opportunities a business keeps getting better.
H-ER offers several services to community members, including Business Efficiency Solutions (BES). BES offers local businesses an assessment that identifies energy cost savings opportunities in a walk-through survey that goes beyond the building. Data on all energy use is gathered and analyzed. The Assessment report provides opportunities for savings, improvements, benchmark of energy metrics and options for solar and electric vehicle (EV) charging.
The Clean Energy Entrepreneurs Collaborative (CEEC)™ supplements Home-Efficiency Resources’ expertise to maximize impacts. H-ER utilizes a network of collaborators with expertise in: energy efficiency; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); solar; Electric Vehicles & EV charging (EVSE); general and industry specific business efficiency, etc. to compliment and increase the value provided to clients.
Home-Efficiency Resources builds on Kondos’ expertise and passion for efficiency, continuous improvement, and harvesting free fuel to make the region more resilient.
Kondos is excited at the prospect of continuing this important work with the community to ensure a bright future for the Monadnock Region and our planet! Learn more about this exciting initiative, here! visit www.home-efficiency.com . If you are a large building or land owner with over an acre of clear land near 3-phase power interested in sun harvesting, pls email email@example.com.
To learn more about Community Supported Solar (CSS), visit cheshireconservation.org/solar
Interested farmers should contact Amanda Littleton directly at the CCCD to reserve their shares; first come first served until sold out. Either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-756-2988 x4 and leave a voicemail.