What's the difference between Real Goods and the Solar Living Institute?

The Solar Living Institute (SLI) was formed as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization by Real Goods founder John Schaeffer in 1996, and offers classes in sustainable living and renewable energy.

EcoTerra Center (formerly the Solar Living Center) is a 12-acre sustainable living demonstration site that is home to the Solar Living Institute (707-472-2456) and the Real Goods Store (707-472-2403). EcoTerra is the #1 tourist destination in Northern California, and has hosted 3 million visitors since it opened. It sees nearly 200,000 visitors each year. SLI manages the EcoTerra Center.

Real Goods Solar, Inc. (RealGoodsSolar.com), along with its commercial and utility division RGS Energy is a leading renewable energy provider, having installed over 13,000 solar power systems for homes, schools, businesses and municipalities. From the first public sale of a solar panel in 1978 to multi-megawatt installations, Real Goods Solar is the oldest and one of the largest solar EPC companies in the country, and operates out of 15 offices in California, Colorado and the Northeastern United States. To learn about custom solar energy solutions for you or your organization, or to schedule a free site visit, call 888-56-SOLAR.

Why do you ask for contributions? Aren't you a for-profit company?

No, as a non-profit organization, our educational programs and outreach efforts are funded entirely by our programs and by contributions from SLI donors and SLI members. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our vital educational mission.

There are many ways you can support our educational mission, such as by volunteering.

I would like to visit your site to get inspired - how do I find you and what are your hours?

EcoTerra Center (formerly the Solar Living Center) is open seven days a week, every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Hours are 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Click here for directions to EcoTerra Center.

Can I take a tour of your facility? What is the cost?

You can pick up a self-guided tour brochure any time you visit the site. We also offer guided tours of the site (subject to staff availability) from May through October (contact 707-472-2456 or katrina@solarliving.org). A $3 donation per person is suggested and greatly appreciated.

If you would like to arrange a custom tour for your school or community group, or a professional level tour for your business or college class, we would be happy to arrange it. There is a charge for these tours. Click here for more about Tours at EcoTerra.

How can I support the Solar Living Institute?

The SLI appreciates and thrives on the support of individuals like you! The programs of SLI, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, are funded by its constituents – people who believe in our mission and who want to help us make a difference for the environment. Your annual donation helps us to realize our goals of providing renewable energy and sustainable living education to school groups, young adults in the internship program, mature adults seeking a career change, and the general public when visiting our 12-acre demonstration site. Your tax-deductible donation will ensure that the Solar Living Institute continues to grow and thrive in the coming year and beyond.

By becoming an annual SLI member or donating to the SLI, you help us financially meet our annual goals and by volunteering you give valuable time and effort in support of our projects and special events. We appreciate all our supporters!

How can I get a job with the Solar Living Institute?

Please contact us at 707-472-2456 to inquire about job opportunities.

Can I volunteer for the Solar Living Institute?

Absolutely! Volunteers are involved in virtually every aspect of our work. Examples of recent activities include: landscaping, organic gardening, assisting with workshops, web and IT work, building new structures on the site, and helping out with special events, like Earthday or Moondance. Click here for more information about volunteering at the SLI.

I'd love to find a career that is consistent with my environmental and social values. Is that possible?

Absolutely! Many graduates of our workshop program have gone on to satisfying and financially rewarding careers in green building, solar energy, and a host of other related fields. To review and register for upcoming courses, go to our Course List.

Am I too old or too young to participate in your workshop program?

Our workshops are designed for participants that include college students, young professionals, mid-career professionals, and retirees. Youth are admitted to workshops on a case-by-case basis. If you are under 18, please call the office at 707-472-2456.

I'm from the media. How do I request more information or arrange for an interview?

We welcome inquiries from the media and are happy to arrange photogenic site visits, and content-rich interviews.

For more information, call 707-472-2456 or email sli@solarliving.org.