03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Green Housing for Veterans

One of the noblest things that any citizen can do is serve in our country's military. The only way to get in is to volunteer, and too
this debt is not repaid. The deplorable situation at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center, uncovered a few years ago, is just one of many

Thank goodness there are organizations outside the federal government
that step up to make good on our promise to take care of those who
take care
of us. Soldier On is an organization that works to get homeless
off the streets and into housing. The Northampton, MA-based group is
developing a limited-equity housing project that will offer veterans
an opportunity to own those homes.

This particular housing project, located in Pittsfield, MA, and
to open in late October, will use photovoltaic technology to power its
apartments. This solar set up is expected to reduce carbon emissions by
71,012 lbs of CO2 annually, or the equivalent of the emissions from an
average passenger car driving 135,625 miles every year for 30 years.
This is also equal to the amount of CO2 that would be removed by
planting 28 acres of trees.
And the system will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions—a major
contributor to smog
and air-induced respiratory problems—by 617 pounds over the life
of the system.

Although the project is relatively small in terms of housing capacity,
it's huge on a
different scale. First, Soldier On is providing an essential service
to homeless veterans
by offering them the opportunity to become homeowners. Secondly, this
housing project is incorporating green and
sustainable principles by installing a solar powered system. The
project is not only giving
a second chance at a stable life to those who have committed
themselves to this country, it's
giving us all a second chance at a healthy planet.

Jonathan A. Schein is publisher of and