Many of our corporate clients often ask whether or not their commercial rooftops are good physical candidates for solar photovoltaic projects. And while every situation is unique, there are several critical factors that should always be taken into consideration when assessing the feasibility of a rooftop solar project for a commercial facility.
Firstly, the structural integrity of the building itself and the reserve capacity of the roof must be adequate to handle the incremental loading associated with a solar photovoltaic project. Fortunately, today’s commercial solar systems are efficiently designed and typically add only ~3-5 pounds per square foot on a distributed load basis. Although most of our client’s buildings are readily able to safely install a rooftop solar system, it is absolutely imperative that a licensed structural PE perform all of the required analyses to ensure that this is the case prior to installation.
Another key consideration is the condition of the roof surface itself. One of the best attributes of solar systems is the long asset life (well in excess of 20 years) and the basic nature of the technology (entirely passive/solid state usually with no moving parts). As a consequence, you do not want to install solar on a roof that is in imminent need of replacement, and ideally, solar can be installed on new or almost new roof with significant remaining useful life. It is important to know the type of roof on your building (membrane, built-up, metal seam, etc.) as well as the age and pertinent warranty information.
Other rooftop solar considerations include shading issues (i.e. are there existing or planned structures that could cause portions of your roof to be shaded at certain times of the day), potential changes to rooftop unit configurations (i.e. are you adding or removing HVAC units), and special considerations depending on your facility’s locations (snow removal protocols or high-wind requirements are specific examples).
Overall, there are a number of key factors to consider when evaluating a rooftop solar system, and for businesses looking seriously at solar for their facilities, we recommend partnering with an experienced solar development firm early in the exploratory process.
More and more U.S. businesses are choosing to significantly increase their procurement of cost-effective renewable energy through the installation of onsite solar photovoltaic systems and the purchase of contracts to buy or invest in offsite renewable energy.
According to a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over 60% of the largest U.S. businesses have set public goals to increase their use of renewable energy. Large corporates are setting these public goals because using renewable energy is becoming a core element of their business & sustainability strategies, and just as importantly, renewable energy is increasingly a more cost-effective option from a procurement stand point. It is no longer just the environmentally-conscious companies that are looking to benefit from renewably-generated electricity.
In July 2014, twelve leading U.S. corporations joined forces and collectively created the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles in an effort to broaden their ability to procure renewable energy. The twelve founding companies are Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, Sprint, and Walmart. The Principles emerged from discussions between the participants convened by the WWF and the World Resources Institute.
According to the Principles’ authors, “we know renewable energy can already achieve cost parity, or better, compared with traditional energy” and furthermore “a significant part of the value to us from renewable energy is the ability to lock in energy price certainty and avoid fuel price volatility”.
This message resonates strongly here at EnterSolar, where our mission is to provide corporate clients with cost-effective solar electricity solutions.
Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles: Increasing Access to Renewable Energy
Being able to promote your business as environmentally responsible is not just important to your clients, but to your employees as well.
Many businesses overlook the added benefit of championing environmental responsibility as an employee retention and recruitment tool. While the notion of “corporate social responsibility,” may have once been regarded as a corporate philanthropy, it has quickly become a crucial part of any large company’s long-term strategy – not just in marketing, but in recruiting, too: As consumers are ever more concerned with where products come from, employees now want more from their employer than a paycheck. They want a sense of pride and fulfillment from their work, a purpose and importantly a company’s whose values match their own.
In a survey by the nonprofit Net Impact, 53% of workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness, and 72% of students about to enter the workforce agreed. Most would even take a pay cut to achieve that goal.
- 45 % of employees said they would take a 15% paycut for a job that makes an environmental impact.
- 58% would take that same paycut to work for an organization with “values like my own.”
Research conducted by Cone Millennial Cause group, found that 80% of a sample of 1,800 13-25 year olds wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. More than half said they would refuse to work for an irresponsible corporation.
What’s more, according to that same research, by the year 2020, Millennials will be 50% of the workforce. And 2020 isn’t that far away…