Archive for February 18th, 2014

Solar-powered Sandy Grove Middle School singled out as ‘Best of the Best’ in current issue of Engineering News & Record

Posted on: February 18th, 2014 by shannonhelm No Comments


LUMBER BRIDGE – Solar-powered Sandy Grove Middle School was the best K-12 education project built in the United States last year, according to a national construction industry magazine.

The Hoke County school is one of 20 widely varying projects singled out in the current issue of Engineering News & Record as “Best of the Best” in 2013.

The magazine said months of painstaking judging went into selecting the best examples of design and construction excellence among U.S. projects completed between July 2012 and July 2013.

Winners first were selected in each category in 10 regions. A different set of industry judges studied those winners to determine the national winners based on teamwork, innovation, quality and success in overcoming challenges.


Sandy Grove’s energy efficiency caught the eye of ENR’s judges

Built with more than 2,300 solar panels, the school produces 30-40 percent more energy than it uses.

Surplus energy is returned to the power grid. As such, ENR said, Hoke County is expected to save about $16 million on its energy bills over the next 40 years. That’s about the cost of the school’s construction.

The 74,000-square-foot school, which opened in August, has numerous other “green” features, including a geothermal system, which uses ground temperature as a heating and cooling source.

High-performance LED lighting is installed throughout the building as are large windows, which permit more natural lighting. Classroom furniture is made from recycled products.

The project is designed to achieve a platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating – the highest LEED level awarded by the U.S. Greeen Building Council.


The school was built through a unique public-private partnership

Firstfloor K-12 Solutions, the project’s developer, leases the land from the county while owning the building. It then leases the building and the land to Hoke County schools. The involvement of a private firm allows for tax credits the school system could not use under traditional school construction financing.

Other businesses involved in the school’s construction included SFL+a Architects of Raleigh; general contractor Metcon Inc. of Pembroke; Crawford Design Co. of Fayetteville, which did civil engineering; LHC Structural Engineers of Raleigh; and Optima of Charlotte, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer.

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‘Solarize Carborro’: Moving Forward in 2014

Posted on: February 18th, 2014 by shannonhelm No Comments


CARRBORO -An initiative to install at least 50 solar panels on the rooftops of Carrboro homes is moving forward this year.

“In the past, I thought – many of us thought – widespread adoption of solar panels on roofs was something that would occur someday in the future, but never really get there,” said Rob Pinder of Next Climate Inc., a non-profit Carrboro organization.

“But I think that, really, that time is now.”

Next Climate Inc. has been working closely with Town of Carrboro staff as well as NC Clean Energy Technology Center, a technical and research group at NC State.

Together, they created the project Solarize Carrboro. And this year, they’re taking action.

“It’s certainly feasible to get to something like a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by widespread adoption of solar panels,” said Pinder.

Pinder presented a report to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen this past Tueday night. Back in 2009, the Board passed a resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Carrboro.

That was the same year that a group of neighbors in Portland, Oregon banded together to negotiate a group discount from a local solar panel installer.

“The Department of Energy saw this,” Pinder said. “They thought, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s try to replicate this all over the country.”

The DOE provided assistance for expert groups to work with citizens all over the country to solarize their towns.

Right now, the Solarize project managers are reviewing proposals, and will announce a vetted installer on February 21.

Solarize hopes to start home assessments on March 1. The first big kickoff meeting will be April 2.

“The purpose of that will be to explain the program,” said Pinder, “and help people understand every aspect of the solar process so that they can make sure that their installation is a great fit for their home.”

People will also get the opportunity to sign up. It’s a limited time offer. Signups end on May 30, so that installations can be completed in time for homeowners to be eligible for a tax break at the end of the year.

The goal for this year is at least 50 homes in Carrboro. Pinder said there have been 30 inquiries already.

More information is available at

Study: N.C. solar jobs more than doubled in 2013

Posted on: February 18th, 2014 by shannonhelm No Comments


Employment in North Carolina’s solar power industry jumped 121 percent in 2013, putting the state in the top 10 nationwide for solar employees, according to a report issued this week.

“This report shows that the solar industry is putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs,” says Dave Rogers, a field director with Environment North Carolina.


The “National Solar Jobs Census 2013″ report says the state has about 3,100 solar employees — far behind first-place California’s 47,000 solar workers. But it was good enough to lift the state eight places from its rank in 2012, when the same report pegged N.C. solar employment at 1,400 workers.

The report was issued Tuesday by The Solar Foundation in cooperation with the GW Solar Center at George Washington University and BW Research of Carlsbad, Calif.


Flurry of installations

The jobs estimate from the national census is higher than an estimate reported last month by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association in its “2013 N.C. Clean Energy Industry Census” report, which pegged state solar employment at a little more than 2,400 workers.

The national census ranks North Carolina fifth in the number of average homes that can be powered by the state’s solar resources, putting the number nearly 37,000.

The jump in employment was fueled by a flurry of activity that had North Carolina ranked second in the nation for the amount of new solar capacity installed last year.

“Solar is a standout job creator in North Carolina, and can continue to grow with smart policies and support from state leaders,” says Kelly Martin, a senior campaign representative with Sierra Club. “Not only has our state seen tremendous growth in solar installations, but this report confirms that those installations mean more jobs for North Carolinians.”


Charlotte Business Journal