A few months ago, I wrote about this former Army Colonel by the name of Dan Nolan who helped lead a team that was responsible for improving the energy efficiency at US Army bases in Iraq:
“We sprayed commercially available foam insulation on the outside of the tents, creating an air barrier capability to that structure, which lowered the requirements for air-conditioning by 40 to 75 percent,” he explained. “You have to get as much savings as you can at the front end from efficiency, so the amount of renewable energy you have to generate at the back end is as little as possible and will go much farther. If I have a base that is demanding 2 megawatts of electricity every day, trying to provide all that with solar or wind or other alternatives is impossible. But if I can take the demand down through efficiency savings to 500 kilowatts a day, then my alternative energy can work.”
A few days ago, a solar contractor by the name of Scott McIntyre from Solar Energy Management, invited me to check out a 50 KW commercial rooftop solar installation his firm just completed in Florida (see photo above) that takes Colonel Nolan’s advice to the next level.
Instead of drilling a bunch of holes in the roof, Scott and his team anchored the solar panel array in the spray on foam insulation that was also put on the roof of the five story building as part of an overall energy efficiency makeover.
Thanks to this innovative combination of technologies the building’s energy bill has been nearly cut in half. But perhaps even more important, this technique now allays a major concern for building owners considering solar by showing that it can be done sans rooftop penetrations.
And for those of you skeptics who are questioning the wisdom or the structural soundness of securing a solar energy system in foam insulation please remember that this was done in Florida.
A place that not only regularly supplies the rest of the world with entertaining news stories about its bizarre residents, but also a place that has some pretty strict building codes due to all of the hurricanes that pass through the area.