Posts Tagged ‘Solar readiness’

Are you building a new school or other public building? If your community is interested in incorporating solar photovoltaics (PV) into a new building project, but unable to do so at this time, specifying a “solar ready” roof will set you up for future success, because many of the modifications made to accomodate solar PV as a retrofit are low/no cost at the design phase. Preparing for solar PV during the building design phase maximizes PV capacity potential and significantly improves the economics of future solar development. Solar readiness should be discussed early in the building design phase; even high-performance green buildings are not always developed as solar ready buildings. 

Penetrations and obstructions on this high school's roof limit solar feasibility.

What is a solar ready roof?

A solar ready roof will have:

  • Sufficient load bearing capacity to accommodate future development of solar PV. A solar PV system typically adds an additional 2-7 pounds per square foot to building static loads, as well as potentially increasing wind-loading on the roof deck.
  • Significant roof area that is free of roof penetrations and obstructions, whereas a typical roof contains many scattered obstructions that impact solar feasibility. 
  • Pre-installed electrical infrastructure.  Running additional conduit to the roof is less expensive during construction than after the fact, and gives you the freedom to choose wiring paths, rather than being forced to, for example, install conduit along a building exterior.
What if my existing building is not solar ready?

Window washing anchors on this school's rooftop had the potential to limit PV capacity; however, the community elected to forego access to these anchors to maximize system size.

For those developing solar on existing buildings, it is important to consider access issues. For example, does the system design need to provide facilities managers with access to rooftop vent fans? If window-washing anchors are present on the roof, would the building owner be willing to forego access to these anchors and wash the building from ground level in order to take advantage of a much larger PV system?  

The DOE Solar America Communities program provides more information on how communities can promote solar readiness at homes, buildings, and developments on their website.



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