For the Suwannee River Administration Building
of 1,700 square feet with a staff of four, a 5-kilowatt system with 56
panels will supply nearly all of the building’s electrical needs.
Like most PV systems, the Suwannee River PV system costs about $6 per
watt. But the system will continue generating power
with little to no replacement for many years.
The Solar Hot Water System
To turn sunlight into hot water requires:
1.roof panel(s) – essentially box “greenhouses” containing
highly absorbent piping and faced with double-glazing that lets light
in yet traps significant heat energy for the piping to capture.
2.transfer piping – this carries the liquid heated in the panels
(either pure water in direct systems or a coolant/water mix in indirect
systems) down to either a storage tank or the water heater tank (direct
system) or to a heat exchanger (indirect system).
In the Suwannee River Administration Building, one
4’ x 8’ collector at peak efficiency (when the sun in a
cloudless sky is shining directly over the panels) supplies most of the
hot water for the office staff and visitors.
The High Performance Low Energy Building Owner
You can’t finetune the energy performance of a building like this
without being a smart operator and maintainer. You will
determine whether the term “grid back-up” is spelled with
a lower or upper case “g.”
You will determine how often your meter runs forward
(you pay them) or backward (they pay you) as part of net metering.
Here are some of the
“little” things that will help you optimize the performance
of your building:
• Use your windows and insulated window shades for best cooling
and heating effect.
• Manage your hot water needs—showering, clothes and dishwashing—to
coincide with peak solar performance.
• Treat all electrical use—ceiling fans, lighting, TV, computers—as
task-oriented: on when used, off when not.
• Manage daily household activities for maximum heating and cooling
benefit during extreme outdoor conditions—microwave use instead
of stove top cooking and baking in the summer, or indoor activities in
Follow building component maintenance schedules religiously.