When you think about switching to renewable energy, chances are you envision a typical rooftop home solar system or a complicated solar thermal array at a Silicon Valley business.
But homes and traditional businesses aren’t the only structures that can make use of the money and planet-saving qualities of clean energy technology.
All over the world, innovative designers and fearless city governments are finding new and exciting ways to utilize solar energy. Read on to learn about some of the some unexpected places where people are benefiting from the use of clean, reliable solar energy.
Kaiakea Fire Station
Hawaii is synonymous with constant sunshine, so it only makes sense that local governments would want to put this free, abundant resource to work powering an essential public service. The Kaiakea fire station will be the third municipal structure to be powered by solar.
“We are very excited about the start of another county PV project,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in a statement. “Incorporating renewable energy into as many county facilities as possible is one of our top priorities and is on our list of Holo Holo 2020 projects.”
Scheduled to be completed in August 2011, the Kaiakea PV system is expected to produce over 40,000 kw of energy each year.
California Community College
I know this post is supposed to be about unique solar-powered buildings, but powering an entire college is even better, don’t you think?
Butte College, in a wildlife refuge just 75 miles from Sacramento, is officially the first “grid positive” college in the nation. This means that the college’s 25,000 solar panels generate far more energy than the small school can use — 6.5 million kilowatts to be exact.
Currently, this excess energy is fed back to the grid, which results in a tidy profit for the school.
There’s nothing unique about using a home solar system to offset your use of grid power. But building a house that’s intended to be a self-sufficient habitat?
That’s something new.
The FabLab house was built by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Madrid, Spain. The futuristic dwelling, which has been described by observers as a “peanut house,” “cinnamon submarine,” “forest zeppelin” or “whale belly” features some of the most advanced solar technology in the world and was recently awarded the People’s Choice award at Solar Decathlon Europe.
Photo: Kaiakea fire station courtesy buildingindustryhawaii.com.
-- Lorna Li is the editor in chief of Green Marketing TV and Entrepreneurs for a Change. She’s specializes in Internet marketing for socially responsible business and enjoys writing about green business, social enterprise, and solar leasing.