Solar Powered Theatre in France is a Real Feat in Engineering

The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban recently completed a very interesting and innovative theater building in Paris, France. Shigeru Ban is well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to architectural design, as well as for his humanitarian design work, and this theatre is no exception. It features a wall of solar panels, which is movable so that it can follow the sun all day.

Ban created the Seine Musicale theatre building in collaboration with French architect Jean de Gastines. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, on the Île Seguin. The round building can seat 5,500 and contains two separate main halls, five recording studios, several practice rooms, as well as a huge rooftop garden that is planted with more than a dozen different tree species.

However, the really impressive part of the building is the 200-ton and 147-foot (45-meter) movable “sail” covered in solar panels. It is a heliotropic surface, which is capable of automatically tracking the path of the sun at a rate of 16 feet (5 meters) per minute. In this way the solar power generation of the array is maximized, while the “sail” also provides shading for the interior. It is definitely a feat in sustainable design, and Ban hopes in time the building will become one of the world famous symbols of Paris, alongside the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre pyramid.

The theater has a timber structure, which is robust enough to support its glass skin. The ceiling of the 1,150-seat classical music auditorium is made out of hexagonal elements that satisfy the acoustic demands of building such a structure. It is covered with an array of tubes that are made from wood, cardboard and paper, while weaved wooden slats cover the walls.

This project took four years to complete, and it is a great example of how cutting edge technology can be used to make our buildings more sustainable. Hopefully more future projects will incorporate such innovative solutions.

Utah gets second largest solar array thanks to Affordable Solar, Sun Edison

SunEdison Solar Plant

The array built by Affordable Solar will produce 1.8 million kWh of clean electricity right at the site and cover 1/3 of the distribution center’s energy usage.

Affordable Solar and Smith’s Food & Drug Stores have completed another project together, this time installing the second largest rooftop solar system in Utah on a Smith’s Food & Drug Stores distribution center in Layton, Utah. This is the fourth time Affordable Solar, a N.M.-based company, has designed and installed a solar array for a Smith’s location.

“Smith’s has made great strides in reducing energy usage in our stores over the past few years,” said Jay Cummins, Smith’s president. “And now this investment in solar energy will also reduce our costs and save our customers money.”

Renewable energy development company Sun Edison was also involved.

“We’re proud to announce the completion of Utah’s largest solar power plant,” said SunEdison Executive Vice President of Americas and EMEA Paul Gaynor. “This is the first of many SunEdison projects to come online in Utah, and SunEdison is leading the way with more than 700 megawatts of solar projects planned for delivery over the next 18 months.”

The rooftop system consists of 4,066 Trina Solar PV modules. Affordable Solar installed the solar panels on three acres of roof space in only six days. The PV array, supported by a non-penetrating Unirac RM system, feeds 36 ABB roof-mounted inverters, with a total output capacity of 993.6kWAC.

The array built by Affordable Solar will produce 1.8 million kWh of clean electricity right at the site and cover 1/3 of the distribution center’s energy usage. Beyond monetary savings, the solar array will offset approximately 1,300 tons of CO2 a year, and 32,000 tons over the life of the system. This clean energy generated is equivalent to the amount needed to power at least 175 homes or to eliminate the carbon emissions generated by 265 average automobiles. According to the Kroger Co., which owns Smith’s, this 1 MW array is projected to save the distribution center approximately $20,000 a month in energy costs.

“We were truly excited when Kroger gave us the green light to design and construct the solar project on their Smith’s Layton distribution center,” said Nick Babic, Director of Project Management for Affordable Solar. “Kroger has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment toward incorporating renewable energy into their facilities, and we will continue to work in close collaboration with Kroger’s energy team to develop additional cost-effective solar energy solutions across their portfolio.”

— Solar Builder magazine

AET Provides Roof Ballast System for GM Facility

AET solar array GM

A 580 kilowatt solar array was recently added to the roof of Baltimore Operation’s e-Motor building, where electric motors and drive units for the Chevrolet Spark EV are built. This new array is made up of approximately 2,420 panels and covers 87 percent of the e-Motor building’s roof.

Applied Energy Technologies (AET), a supplier of commercial and utility-scale racking systems and one of the top 10 solar racking companies in the United States, was selected by Empower Energies to provide its Rayport-B roof ballast mounting system at GM’s Baltimore Operations facility in White Marsh, Md. This manufacturing campus already featured a 1.23-MW rooftop solar array. The new system will add approximately 2,420 5-by-3 solar panels, covering 87 percent of the roof area of the GM e-Motor building, a 110,500-square-foot addition that manufactures electric motors and drive units for the Chevrolet Spark EV.

“Our roots are in the automotive industry,” said Aaron Faust, VP of business development at AET. “The precision and rigorous specifications required to manufacture quality products in the automotive industry are traits embodied in GM, and ones that we bring to our solar racking systems. Our Rayport-B roof ballast system, being the only stainless steel system on the market, brings unprecedented quality and reliability to the PV installation at GM’s facility.”

AET has more than 30 years of product development and engineering experience in both automotive and solar industries.

— Solar Builder magazine

Lockheed Martin Selects Advanced Roofing to Construct Florida’s Largest Privately Held, Non-Utility Owned Solar Energy Array

Lockheed Martin solar array

Lockheed Martin has contracted Advanced Roofing and Advanced Green Technologies to design and build a massive 2.25 megawatt solar carport at the global security and aerospace company’s Mission Systems and Training facility in Clearwater, Florida. The project will be the largest private, non-utility owned solar array in Florida and is expected to produce 3.33 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The solar carport will cover 151,400 square feet of the facility’s parking lot with 7,260 solar modules to provide shade for 534 cars. At completion, the project is expected to cut electricity purchases for the facility by up to 60 percent, according to Lockheed Martin’s estimates.

Advanced Roofing, Florida’s largest commercial solar contractor, competed with a field of national and Florida-based firms for the contract. The company will serve as general contractor, with sister firm Advanced Green Technologies providing construction and installation.

“Since the facility’s operations will be in full swing throughout the construction schedule, precise phasing will be crucial to expedite our work and minimize disruption at the site,” said Clint Sockman, vice president of Advanced Roofing and Advanced Green Technologies. As the state’s largest commercial re-roofing contractor, Advanced Roofing will draw on its decades of experience with large, complex projects at operational corporate, federal, healthcare, education, manufacturing and retail facilities.

Construction of the fast-tracked, multi-phased project begins this month and will employ more than 40 workers on-site, with completion set for summer 2015. In addition to design, procurement and construction of the solar carport, Advanced Roofing’s contract includes resurfacing the entire 6.65-acre asphalt parking lot at the facility.

Advanced Roofing will first resurface half the parking lot, and then install the carport’s foundations and structural steel superstructure.  The contractor’s crews will then install the solar panel canopy, using high- efficiency Hanwha SolarOne S-series modules, and will add the full under-canopy LED lighting system. The first phase will be in use as the second-phase parking lot work commences.

Throughout Florida and around the nation, offsetting energy costs with solar carports is a growing trend for corporate, healthcare, hotel and government facilities. A recent national study by GTM Research projected a 76 percent increase in solar carports from an estimated 2014 annual installed capacity of 180.2 megawatts to an estimated 318 megawatts in 2016.

— Solar Builder magazine

A Solar Powered Yurt Cabin You Can Build Yourself

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The Polyurt 180, made by the company Full Circle Shelters, is a cabin that measures 180 square feet and can house up to 4 people, and can provide a completely off-the-grid and mortgage free living. On top of that, it is also very easy to construct, while the 12-sided, circular shape of the yurt makes for a very strong structure.

The parts used to build the Polyurt 180 are all cut from a standard 4 feet by 8 feet material and this process creates very little waste. Furthermore, the round shape of the structure also makes it possible to use roughly 15% less material as compared to a rectangular or a square shaped building of the same size. The smaller exterior surface area also allows the yurt to retain heat better.

The Polyurt can also be fitted with standard sized windows and doors, due to the fact that the side panels are standard sized and that specially designed corner posts provide the needed support for the roof. The latter leaves all wall panel surfaces available for windows and doors.

Full Circle Shelters has recently built the prototype of the Polyurt 180. The cabin is fully insulated, and finished with wood paneling on the walls and has a pine wood ceiling. The house is powered by 2 solar panels that were installed on the ground by the side of the yurt. The cabin is heated via a small outdoor wood burner that supplies heat through ductwork. In the interior The yurt also features a small wooden deck at the front entrance. The bathroom will be built as an attachment to the main cabin and will contain a shower and a composting toilet.

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The company offers 3 different packages of the Polyurt 180, which depend on how proficient you are at do-it-yourself building. The first option is a pre-cut wood shell package, which is ready to assemble upon arrival. The shell of the yurt can be assembled in one day by a single person. You can then add all the insulation and other necessity as you see fit. The company also offers a kit, which contains the metal rings for the ceiling and floor, the clear acrylic dome for the center of the building, and plans and instructions for making and constructing your Polyurt. But if you would prefer to do all the work by yourself, the company also sells all plans and instructions.

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