• Sep 5th 2008 at 7:06PM
  • 6
As part of a program to provide the University of California at San Diego with renewable energy from several sources including sun, wind and bio-gas fuel cells, the school has "planted" a virtual grove of Solar Trees™ on the upper levels of a pair of parking garages. The "trees" provide energy for the school as well as shade for student vehicles. The grid-tied electrical infrastructure needed for the project also allows outlets for the spaces so when plug-in hybrids and electric cars begin to appear on campus they can be accommodated.

The school avoided paying any upfront cost by partnering with three different local companies who took care of the purchase and installation of the Envision Solar grove. The energy will be metered and the school will be billed monthly for the electricity received. The Solar Trees™ are said to be extremely sturdy and capable of enduring high winds as well as incidents of "driver error." Although not present in this installation, other Envision solar groves include rain water capture as well. Press release is after the break.

[Source: The Earth Times]


LA JOLLA, Calif. - (Business Wire) The University of California, San Diego, which strives to be one of the nation's "greenest" college campuses, has undertaken a forestation program in an unlikely place...on the roof of two of its parking garages. Steel components have already taken shape, forming the framework for Solar Trees™ that will soon be fitted with a canopy of Kyocera photovoltaic modules to provide clean energy for the campus, shade for vehicle parking, future infrastructure for electric vehicles, and a pleasant visual surprise on the top of the garage.

The Solar Tree™ is native to San Diego, the creation of Envision CEO Robert Noble, a sustainable architect with an Ivy League education and deep roots in his hometown of San Diego. Noble was CEO of local architectural firm Tucker, Sadler when Kyocera International commissioned a project to transform an employee parking lot into a showpiece for its photovoltaic panels, and an architectural landmark that won recognition from the American Institute of Architecture.

Both the award-winning design of the Kyocera Solar Grove™ in Kearny Mesa and the UCSD Solar Grove™ are based on the principles of bio-mimicry, the discipline that takes concepts from nature and employs them in architecture. The design of the Solar Tree™ is based on natural trees, with trunks and branches supporting a shade canopy. "As sustainable architects, we at Envision Solar are committed to adding beauty and form to the functionality of solar power generation, and integrating it with the overall design of the site," said Noble.

Each Solar Tree™ at UCSD will generate more than 17,000 hours of clean energy per year, which is enough to power more than four single-family homes. Each Solar Tree™ avoids 13.2 metric tons of carbon emissions. Furthermore, the Solar Tree™ design offers the option to install an outlet for electric vehicle charging; effectively, UCSD's rooftop Solar Groves™ will provide some of San Diego's first electric vehicle infrastructure.

"This photovoltaic installation marks an historic event for a campus that has become a living laboratory for climate change solutions," said Steve Relyea, Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs. "Our sustainable energy program is the result of a campus-wide commitment by students, faculty and administration to advance environmental sustainability on a local, national and global level." UC San Diego's green energy program will continue to unfold over the next year.

Noble added, "We at Envision Solar are proud to support UCSD with our design for a bio-mimetic renewable energy installation at the cutting edge of solar integrated architecture." Noble will be co-presenting the concept of site-integrated photovoltaics, including the UCSD design, at the upcoming Conference of the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with UCSD's Dr. Lisa Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Sustainability Initiative.

About Envision Solar International, Inc.

Envision Solar International, Inc. is a turn-key, solar integrated building systems developer. The company's mission is to provide aesthetically pleasing photovoltaic systems to increase the worldwide use of renewable energy. Led by a group of visionary architects, builders and engineers, Envision Solar transforms heat-absorbing parking areas into beautiful, efficient solar power plants. Learn more about us at: www.envisionsolar.com.

About the University of California, San Diego

The University of California, San Diego is one of the premier research universities in the nation. In June 2005, UC San Diego Chancellor Fox announced the formation of a campus-wide Environment and Sustainability Initiative (ESI) to bring together the intellectual resources of the campus around the challenges of sustainability. Building on more than 100 years of excellence, including pioneering work in climate sciences, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the ESI incorporates UCSD's other assets -- the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, as well as the traditional disciplines in engineering, biological, physical, health, and social sciences; humanities, and the new Rady School of Management.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really, really wish my apartment complex would replace their old carports with these. Not only would they get to sell energy back to the grid, but I would finally have a place to plug in an EV.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I work at UCSD where we're charged $90/month to park in this structure (or anywhere on campus). The head of parking there recently told me that the Gilman solar array will NOT be used for plug-in vehicles. It collects energy only. It's part of UC's effort to create more of its own power across all campuses... a federal grant system was recently enacted that will allow universities to gain more funds if they can prove they are using sustainable practices. So... not that it's not good stuff, but it's not an entirely altruistic venture, and will not benefit EV users.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Responding to Karen:

        Just to clarify fhe Solar Trees(TM) provide infrastructure for electric vehicles, meaning they are stubbed out so that a charging station can be added quickly and inexpensively, presumably once demand for them has been assessed. Without the Solar Trees(TM), providing charging stations would require trenching, wiring, major concrete work, etc. The Solar Trees(TM) will absolutely be of benefit to EV users.

        We just had a major meeting with the campus at the end of last week with the highest levels at the campus at the Chancellor's complex and as both an alum and a vendor, I will share that I observed a great deal of altruistic environmentalism and a genuine desire to "do the right thing." Grants and programs are a means to an end, as they are with most of our customers.

        If you are around Wednesday evening at 5, feel free to stop by the Envision Solar offices in La Jolla--we will be watching Chris Payne's film and hosting a discussion about how our products and services can be of more benefit to the EV community in the residential and commercial markets.

        All the best, and thanks so much for the comments!

        Pamela Stevens, LEED AP
        Chief Operating Officer
        Envision Solar International, Inc.

      • 7 Years Ago
      It's great that the Solar Trees(TM) can be modified to allow for EV charging stubs. However, the head of parking at UCSD told me specifically that this capability will not be added to UCSD's system. He was not interested in debating the matter any further.

      My comment was meant to correct this site's original article -- the construction is NOT geared toward charging of EVs, but only to collect energy to offset campus energy use. EV charging capability will NOT be made available to students, staff, or visitors. I sincerely wish you luck as you attempt to convince the campus otherwise, as I hope to finish an EV project sometime in the next year or two and would definitely drive it to campus on the days that I drive.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is awesome ! I wish the pay-on-bill system was widespread.
      • 7 Years Ago
      totally neat idea. i wish we were as forward thinking about solar in the UK
    Share This Photo X