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High Performance Low Energy Building (page 3)

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 the winter.

Follow building component maintenance schedules religiously.

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