Growing Our Solar Panel Knowledge

Did you know that buildings consume 75% of the U.S.'s electricity according to the EIA? As we move towards April's Earth Month, we will be building up our sustainability knowledge. This is so we can be better advocates for renewable energy and be more environmentally responsible architects working to reduce our buildings' reliance on fossil fuels. 

Last week we attended a Solar Photovoltaic Training for Architects and Engineers put on by SunShot U.S. Department of Energy and Co-sponsored by the AIA Chicago and Illinois Green. If you’re wondering what Photovoltaic means, it is just a fancy word describing the method of generating electric power from solar cells that produce a direct current of electricity from sunlight alone. You may hear Solar Photovoltaic Panels referred to as PV Panels.

Solar Panels are often one of the first options that come to mind when we think about how to reduce our carbon emissions, and at this 8 hour training we delved deep into the logistics of actually installing solar panels on structures. We, as their architects, hope to eliminate our buildings’ reliance on diminishing fossil fuels by 2030: knowing how to install Solar Panels correctly is a crucial step to help us get there.

To get the full use out of solar panels, architects and engineers must work in tandem to make sure they are properly aligned so no surrounding objects block the sunlight. This training has helped us understand just how hyper-aware of our surroundings we must be when installing these panels, constantly watching out for surrounding trees, buildings, as well as any pipes or mechanical equipment on rooftops that would cast a shadow on the panels and render them useless.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, installing solar panels (and other renewable energies) account for 93 different tax incentives in Illinois! Out of the whole country three states from the midwest have the fastest growing use of solar technology, and those are coincidentally not the sunniest of states: Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan. If they can do it, so can we, here in Chicago. husARchitecture would love to be your partner for a greener future.

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Emma Husar