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Everything Solar: Commercial Roofing Goes Solar

Everything Solar: Commercial Roofing Goes Solar

For decades, energy-conscious consumers have been placing solar panel arrays on top of their roofs in order to embrace renewable energy, power their homes or buildings, and save money on utility bills. This has been the status quo for so long that when most people think of solar energy, they picture a rooftop-mounted PV panel. But as solar technology benefits from continued research and innovation in materials and manufacturing practices, the paradigm is shifting.

When retrofitting an older building to take advantage of solar energy, new panels are more efficient, more versatile, and more aesthetically pleasing than ever before. But for new construction, it’s now possible to do away with panels entirely! New commercial roofing systems function both as solar panels and as the roof itself, combining construction costs to save building owners even more money.

Building-Integrated Solar

Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels are the latest innovation to hit the solar market, increasing design and installation options for residential and commercial solar consumers seeking to achieve their energy goals. Unlike “traditional” solar installations, in which panels are mounted on frames on top of or nearby the building they provide power to, building-integrated panels blend seamlessly with other construction materials as part of the structure itself. Whether you are building a new home or commercial facility or retrofitting an existing structure, BIPV offers several exciting design possibilities.

Many solar companies have embraced BIPV innovation, creating products that function as both solar panels and construction materials, whether foundational or decorative. One product that we find particularly exciting is Solbrana’s Solar Roof System. It is a “standard commercial single-ply membrane roof system with a standard solar PV system” that functions “as an ‘inseparable engineered system’.”

Financial Benefits of BIPV

Not only do BIPV panels save consumers and builders on construction costs, but they are also helping owners access additional tax credits and incentives. In Solbrana’s case, the firm was “the first company to successfully receive a Private Letter Ruling (PLR), proving its solar solution of harnessing light reflected off the roof made the roof an integral and inseparable part of the solar array.” This allows for purchase and installation costs to “fall into ‘Section 48 energy property’” per the IRS’ tax guidelines, “and qualify for the investment tax credit (ITC),” which “allows for a substantial tax credit at the end of the year” because of immediate depreciation.

Traditional solar panels and construction costs have been classified as “Section 1250 Property,” which depreciates over a 39-year period, making them much less financially viable for many consumers. BIPV panels like Solbrana’s that qualify as “Section 48 energy property” therefore substantially increase consumers’ short and long-term return on their solar investment. Additionally, these products incentivize solar adoption by encouraging builders of new construction (or those replacing existing roofs) to consider adding solar to their plans.

Everything Solar Includes Commercial BIPV Solutions

Our new Everything Solar consumer solar solution enables our clients to maximize their return on investment in solar products by using solar energy more efficiently to power their home or commercial, residential, or industrial building. By combining access to a diverse array of solar solutions, including battery storage, we make it simple for consumers to achieve their ideal solar project, enhancing comfort, control, and savings. In addition, by focusing on comprehensive solar technology solutions such as the Smart Home and the Internet of Things (IOT), we’re working to make them more accessible and understandable to solar consumers.

To learn more about Everything Solar, BIPV products, or our expertise in solar design, construction, project management, and consulting, contact us today!

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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