University planting solar trees on parking garages

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:

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.

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