The design flexibility, aesthetics and superior energy output of SANYO’s HIT® Double solar modules are creating a new design vernacular for architects, building owners, hoteliers, restaurateurs and public gathering places across North America. And it’s an improvement with multi-faceted revenue potential.
One case in point is the solar canopy solution, Inman Solar created for Bob Marshall, co-owner of the 18,000-square-foot Edgewood at the Beltline building in Atlanta’s historic Martin Luther King, Jr. District. Despite the fact that it was one of the newer buildings in the district, it featured an industrial design begging for improvements. Its vast third floor terrace had water infiltration issues, and its exposed floor-to-ceiling windows--initially an attractive feature for tenants--led to massive morning and evening heat gains.
Marshall engaged the experts at Inman Solar to assess the site. After discussions with Marshall, the Inman Solar team produced conceptual drawings and 3-D models that integrated a quasi-industrial, high-tech look addressing Marshall’s structural concerns while introducing an aesthetically-intriguing design with a revenue-generating component never before seen in the region-- 16 kW solar canopy.
“In the process of constructing the structure, we were also able to pinpoint and correct issues in a way that led to not only better rain water management, but much-needed window shading. The canopy provided an aesthetic improvement with benefits for Marshall, his tenants and the community at large that were apparent from day one,” noted Inman Solar CFO Steve Chiariello.
At the core of the 84-panel solar canopy’s revenue-generating potential are advances like SANYO’s highly-efficient HIT® solar technology, proven to help integrators and installers optimize their energy-generating capabilities. Inman Solar architect and co-founder Mark Jones was particularly interested in the bi-facial characteristics of SANYO’s HIT® Double glass-on-glass panels, whose cells can generate up to 30% more energy from the panel’s backside, depending on mounting surface conditions. HIT Power® modules are known for their high energy conversion efficiency ratings and their superior performance under cloudy conditions and during the hottest days of the year, something folks in Atlanta know about firsthand.
“The ability of HIT cells to produce electricity from incident sunlight makes the HIT Double panels ideal for building-integrated designs like awnings, pergolas and skylights,” notes Jones. “And because SANYO’s solar cells are rated at the highest certified level for conversion efficiency, we can offer clients attractive solutions that give them more for their solar dollar. We also liked the fact that SANYO’s silicon ingots and wafers, (core materials in the manufacturing of solar cells and modules), are manufactured here in the U.S.,” Jones said.
Enhanced energy output is important to building co-owner Marshall, as electricity generated from the system is sold to Georgia Power at a premium and fed back into the grid. Also, the building qualifies for a share of US$13.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects allocated to 64 Georgia communities. The state grant, the potential for accelerated depreciation and additional economic incentives further sweeten the deal.
It’s no coincidence that Inman Solar invited architects, property owners and real estate professionals to learn more about the buzz-creating solar canopy solution on tax day. “Most people understand there are tax credits available for solar,” said Inman’s Chiariello. “What impressed our guests about the solar canopy was how it illustrated that we can apply these same tax credits to out-of-the-box solutions with more versatility and functionality than traditional roof-mount systems. Solutions using SANYO’s bi-facial panels can be integrated right into the building. These are not just eye-catching, but reliable systems with positive ROI.”
Marshall says investing in unconventional solar solutions like Inman’s solar canopy not only makes good business sense, it offers aesthetically and environmentally-sound solutions that appeal to key tenants. “The solar canopy enhances the work environment for our top floor tenant, Vantage Realty, and furthers a commitment we made to our largest tenant, CreaXion, to reduce the building’s carbon footprint,” said Marshall. Marshall says the Inman-SANYO solution is an effective catalyst for building owners across the Southeast to consider out-of-the-box solar initiatives, “This solution is a hit with our partners. We are redoubling our efforts to extend solar energy use at several of our other properties.”
Added Jones, “SANYO’s HIT Doubles create a new vernacular to play with for those looking to improve their building design, whether from the ground up or to upgrade existing structures. And introducing these kinds of high-visibility projects is a strong motivator for building owners interested in attracting tenants while enhancing their revenue potential. The design was a natural fit for the Edgewood building in many ways.”
Jones says while he sees these types of solutions being particularly appealing to building owners working through the commercial real estate community, they also have great potential to seed a little green inspiration for hoteliers, municipalities looking to improve public gathering places and restaurateurs. “When you look up at the canopy with the sun behind it, the panels create an intriguing translucent feature with a halo-like effect. It allows properties to add not only the physical feature of solar, but live Internet monitoring that has the energy output at any given time displayed for customers so they can witness the production of clean energy throughout the day,” said Jones. The Edgewood at the Beltway building has a monitoring system that’s broadcast in real time so employees can log on to see how the system is performing. “Something similar could be quite appealing for hotels, municipalities and others who wish to introduce and display their green presence in very public ways. There can be a WOW factor to this people really appreciate,” he added.
“This is part of the first wave of solar technology being integrated into buildings from the ground up. The solar canopy is one of the many impressive looks that can be achieved with HIT Doubles. There are many others. There are solar facades, solar roofs, pergolas, carports and an array of variations on the canopy,” noted Jones. “It’s great to see these types of projects being introduced here in the Southeast,” he said. “But if responses to other SANYO solutions are as positive as they’ve been on this one, this is just the beginning.”
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