Approaches

Our Solar Power Approach to Energy Production

Achieving net zero energy (NZE) operationally is a central design goal for Co|Lab, which made selecting the power production source a critical decision. We considered three renewable energy sources for the site: wind, solar, and geothermal. Working closely with our design team and engineering partners, solar energy was chosen to accomplish our design vision and achieve the NZE goal.

“In the US, solar generation has reduced CO2 emissions by 74 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 15.8 million cars from the roads or planting 1.9 billion trees.”

The solar power market experienced exponential growth between 2006 and 2016, almost doubling megawatt production each year. This emerging market has been an economic driver for the US, employing more than 250,000 people and generating $17 billion in investment in the economy. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, despite the 30 percent tariffs set on solar panels in February 2018, prices of the modules are falling again. The market outlook is strong after showing lower-than-expected tariffs and a global oversupply of modules. Improved technology, lower installation and material costs, and legislation passed at state and local levels are further incentivizing future investment in solar energy, thus making the power source more accessible on a broader scale for individuals and commercial users alike.

There is a growing “solar generation” that has taken the stage, pushing the efficiencies and accessibility of solar power as a renewable energy. In the US, this generation has reduced CO2 emissions by 74 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 15.8 million cars from the roads or planting 1.9 billion trees. California is leading the market with increasing megawatt production each year. The state passed legislation in 2018 requiring homes built after 2020 to employ solar power in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

Solar power has clear benefits to the environment as a clean energy source, but it can also be financially lucrative. In conjunction with savings on energy costs, commercial and residential users of solar power are often eligible for tax credits from both the federal and state governments. Additionally, selling back excess power to local utility companies is often an option, one that will be explored by Co|Lab.

In collaboration with our MEP designer, Staengl Engineering, Co|Lab selected a 2,800 sf photovoltaic solar array in conjunction with a battery storage system. The design and product selection maximized available space on the relatively small rooftop to ensure the array could provide at least 100 percent of the building’s power. Modeling the anticipated energy consumption was difficult given the unconventional use of the facility, which required the team to take conservative estimates. The system will also be grid-tied, enabling Co|Lab’s meter to spin back.

Relying on solar as a clean energy source will enable Co|Lab to maximize production, despite the small building footprint and geographical location. We look forward to further exploring our solar energy production and sharing insights into the technology along the way.

Andrew Foncannon, Project Manager, HITT Contracting

Paul McHugh, Senior Superintendent, HITT Contracting