The Challenge to Harness Solar Energy in Building Design

The Challenge to Harness Solar Energy in Building Design

Charleston has over 200 sunny days on average each year, and has the potential to store and harness solar energy as the primary source of power in new building design.  There are several building projects underway to make individual buildings “net zero” in South Carolina. These buildings are designed to produce as much energy as they take in each year.

The Net Zero Energy Building is one design approach being used in South Carolina to build highly efficient buildings with very low energy demand using wind and solar energy systems. The Half Moon Outfitters 14,000 square foot building in downtown Greenville is in the process of a net zero renovation.  Daniel Island’s Insulsteel of South Carolina has built 20 net zero homes with plans to construct more across South Carolina.  Steve Bostic of Insulsteel told the Post & Courier, “we design our homes to meet net zero standards.”

A highly visible project in downtown Charleston is being building on King Street near the Crosstown.  The developer is Richards Gregory, who has combined his passion for contemporary designs and strong environmental standards to build the 8,300 square foot office building at 663 King Street reports the Post & Courier.

Mr. Gregory has already renovated one home into an office space at 68 Line Street, and plans to use the same energy-efficient materials, methods, equipment and solar energy panels to build the new building. He said it took him and architect Tara Romano several years to gain approval for the contemporary design from the Charleston Board of Architectural Review. Romano told the Post & Courier, that “with this building being adjacent to an overpass, and with few historic structures immediately surrounding it, we encountered less push-back from the public than we might have had if this building were in a different location in the city.”  Gregory added that he expects to get the necessary building permits by the end of the year, and to start construction in about 12 to 18 months.  He plans to open up the building by the middle of 2019.

Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute, Bryan Cordell calls the project “exceptional and pivotal for our region,” in both its contemporary design and energy efficiency. The building project is considered a pilot for the institute’s RISES (Resilient, Innovative, Sustainable, Efficient and Safe) certification program of buildings that are at least 30 percent more energy and water efficient, and use building materials that do not have adverse health impacts on a building’s tenants.

Source: “Zeroing in on Energy,” by David Quick, Post & Courier, September 3, 2017

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