At Greenbuild, CertainTeed sponsored a luncheon and panel discussion on The Future of Solar Roof Technology. The panel was very diverse, representing manufacturers of solar materials and end users. The panel included Dennis Wilde, Principal and Development Advisor, Gerding Edlen Development; Alain Garnier, General Manager, Saint-Gobain Solar U.S.; Jeff Wolfe, Co-founder and CEO of groSolar; and Mark Stancroff, Business Manager, CertainTeed Solar. Because of the amount of good information discussed at the event, I am breaking it down into more than one Blog.
The event was moderated by Rob Fleming and Chris Pastore from Philadelphia University who are also known as Ecoman and the Skeptic on their Philadelphia radio show. Rob is an architect by trade and Chris is an engineer. Both are professors and on the faculty at Philadelphia University. They represented the real world, both the advocates and the skeptics, and created a perfect atmosphere for the audience by challenging the panel and encouraging the audience to do the same, which they did.
The audience was a mix of users and makers as well so the discussion was very robust. I find when I travel to talk to groups about sustainability this is exactly what you find – skeptics and believers.
According to the end users on the panel, Jeff Wolfe and Dennis Wilde, the adoption of solar and photovoltaics in the U.S. continues to be slow. Consumers are skeptical and are concerned about the return on investment. They are waiting for their neighbors to invest. Homeowner associations are also challenging this initiative based on aesthetics.
Dennis Wilde has been involved in building with photovoltaics and his firm supports initiatives like the Living Building Initiative. He had some interesting insights into the benefits of photovoltaics compared to integrated wind technology. Referring to a specific project, Dennis stated that the return for solar will be three to five years on that project and the return on the integrated wind technology will be about 104 years. It is clear that integrated wind technology will not give the return as quickly on that project but it still has merit as a renewable energy source. The issue may be one of a matter of scale. Dennis also discussed the success they are having using photovoltaics on the façade of the building as opposed to the roof. With Living Building, you have to maximize the power generation to meet the benchmarks and they have seen success with this technique.
Stay tuned for more on The Future of Solar Roof Technology.
I would love to hear your thoughts if you are using photovoltaics in the field.
Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation