Comments Sought on PV Racking Criteria for Asphalt Shingle Roof Integration

The Center PV Taskforce is releasing the first public draft of PV Racking and Attachment Criteria for Effective Asphalt Shingle Roof System Integration for an initial round of public comment. The first draft has been prepared by the PV Taskforce.

The Center PV Taskforce will accept public comments until 8 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.

The document is intended to enhance collaboration between key stakeholders from the solar and roofing industries, and accelerate the deployment of rooftop-integrated solar. Members of the solar industry and other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments and engage the Taskforce in future stakeholder discussions. Taskforce members also will accept comments from the at-large community and consider those comments within internal stakeholder discussions.

Directions for submitting public comments:

  • Download a copy of PV Racking and Attachment Criteria for Effective Asphalt Shingle Roof System Integration.
  • All comments shall be submitted no later than 8 p.m. EST, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • All comments shall be submitted using the Center PV Taskforce online survey form.
  • Additional details can be found on the first page of the criteria document.

If you have questions, please contact James Kirby, (202) 380-3371.

Mount Photovoltaics on Low-slope Roofs

Unirac Roof Mount (RM)

Unirac Roof Mount (RM)

Unirac Inc. has released its Unirac Roof Mount (RM), which replaces RapidRac for mounting photovoltaics on low-slope roofs. Each ballast bay is compact and easy to handle, weighing less than 3 1/2 pounds and allowing for 10-degree tilt. The modular design helps installers navigate modules around HVAC units or other roof obstacles, maximizing power density. The RM supports most framed crystalline modules. In addition, U-Builder, an online tool that allows customers to design and quote a system in seconds, supports the RM.

(855) 387-8450

Are You ‘PV Ready’?

Commercial rooftops are an attractive platform for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity-producing systems. These low-slope roofs offer an economical and sustainable structural foundation for renewable solar energy. As an example, one of the largest roof-mounted PV systems in North Carolina has been online for several months at the Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. vault logistics facility in Thomasville. Almost 7,700 solar panels completely cover the warehouse’s 160,000-square-foot roof and produce enough power (1.8 megawatts) to offset more than 90 percent of the building’s annual energy costs.

Success stories like Old Dominion’s are becoming increasingly common in the sunny Carolinas. However, it is important to remember a roof’s function is, first and foremost, to protect the building’s contents and people from the elements. In this regard, roofing professionals need to anticipate the potential risks associated with the installation of a roof-mounted PV system (array). This sort of due diligence is particularly important when installing PV systems on existing warranted roofs.

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

To help in these industry efforts, members of Waltham, Mass.-based SPRI—the trade association that represents sheet membrane and component suppliers to the commercial roofing industry—have developed “PV Ready” roof assemblies and guidelines designed to provide maximum protection for the roof (and maintain its warranty coverage).

In September, SPRI’s technical committee and board of directors also approved and distributed to its members Technical Bulletin 1-13A, “Summary of SPRI Membrane Manufacturer Photovoltaic (PV) Ready Roof Systems and Services”. The bulletin contains general guidelines from SPRI related to “PV Ready” roof assemblies. This article goes into more depth about issues related to PV installations, particularly on existing warranted roofs.

Ask the Right Questions

The installation of a PV system on an existing warranted roof raises many important questions for the roofing professional and building owner. For example, will the roof accommodate the added weight of the PV array? Logistically speaking, before property owners decide on a solar-power system, they will need to determine whether their roofs are sturdy enough to support
the additional loads put on the existing roof structure by the solar array.

An average solar panel and support system typically add a minimum of 3 to 4 pounds per square foot to the existing roof. It is the responsibility of the roofing professional to ensure this additional weight does not exceed the load limits determined by the building’s designer.

From an economic (life-cycle-cost) point of view, it makes sense the service life of the existing roof membrane will come close to matching the projected service life of the PV system. If not, a complex and costly reroofing project may be required long before the solar panels need to be replaced. In general, the underlying roofing system must provide the same minimum investment horizon—generally at least 25 years—to realize the full potential of the rooftop PV system.

Most PV arrays require penetrating the roof membrane. Even non-rack-type systems may include electrical conduits, wiring and other components that may need to be flashed in a professional manner. It is essential the responsibility for this flashing work rests with the roofing contractor.

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CertainTeed Provides Solar Training, Partners with Angie’s List

Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed Corp. has partnered with Penn State University, College Station, Pa., in the construction of a solar power training facility. The project is the second phase of the groundbreaking, new smart-energy campus GridSTAR Center at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Functionally designed with input from CertainTeed, the building will showcase the manufacturer’s line of solar roofing products and provide an outlet for training students and building professionals in contemporary solar roofing system installation.

The steep-slope portion of the facility’s roof will feature a 2-kilowatt Apollo II solar roofing system integrated among Landmark Solaris Gold premium designer shingles in Max Def Weathered Wood and a 2-kilowatt Solstice rack-mounted solar roofing system. The GridSTAR Center also features a net-zero-energy demonstration home with Landmark Solaris shingles and a host of other exterior and interior CertainTeed building products.

In other news, CertainTeed is strengthening its roofing contractors’ reputation management and promotion strategies through a partnership with Angie’s List. By teaming up with the online national consumer review service, CertainTeed is helping local contractors build awareness for their services by providing access to exclusive advertising discounts, local business growth marketing opportunities and support.

“ShingleMaster contractors have proven their ability to provide knowledgeable installation of our roofing products to homeowners,” says Jay Butch, director of contractor programs and promotions for CertainTeed Roofing. “To show our gratitude for playing such an important role in our continued success, the partnership with Angie’s List will help to further manage, strengthen and leverage their local reputations and grow their businesses.”

As part of the program, contractors will be assigned a dedicated team at Angie’s List that is available to answer questions and provide updates about program details, account status, local market metrics, best practices and local advertising opportunities. Angie’s List helps homeowners hire local service professionals in more than 550 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. In 2012, nearly 500,000 Angie’s List members searched the website to hire a highly rated roofing professional.

Inovateus Solar Installs Solar-power System on McElroy Metal’s Manufacturing Facility

South Bend, Ind.-based Inovateus Solar LLC, a worldwide installer of commercial and industrial solar-power systems, has embarked on a rooftop solar array project on Bossier City, La.-based McElroy Metal’s Peachtree City, Ga., manufacturing location. The project is part of the Medium Scale Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative Program. Construction on the facility’s roof and a parking lot canopy began Sept. 29. The 500 kW array is scheduled to be commissioned before Christmas.

“It is the largest solar installation for a metal roofing manufacturer,” states Inovateus Solar Project Manager Peter Rienks. “McElroy is really stepping up to the plate to incorporate renewables into their product offering.”

McElroy has 12 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. Through its partnership with Inovateus Solar, McElroy now manufactures ready-to-install solar panels fully integrated into steel-panel systems and offers solar kits with the company’s metal roofs.

McElroy Metal President Ian McElroy says: “We are very excited to be installing a half-megawatt photovoltaic system on our Peachtree City facility. The existing metal roof is over 34 years old and consists of galvanized R panel. We will be retrofitting with our 238T symmetrical standing-seam system, which provides an excellent metal-over-metal reroof solution. And, since we were installing a new roof, we decided to explore adding solar. With the help of our solar partner, Inovateus Solar, we were able to put together a plan that made financial sense.”

SPRI Distributes ‘PV Ready’ Technical Bulletin

Waltham, Mass.-based SPRI’s Technical Committee and board of directors have approved and distributed to the organization’s members Technical Bulletin 1-13A, “Summary of SPRI Membrane Manufacturer Photovoltaic (PV) Ready Roof Systems and Services”. The bulletin contains general guidelines from SPRI related to “PV Ready” roof assemblies and services designed to provide maximum protection for the roof (and maintain its warranty coverage). SPRI represents sheet membrane and component suppliers to the commercial roofing industry.

“Commercial rooftops are a convenient platform for installing solar photovoltaic systems,” says SPRI Technical Director Mike Ennis. “However, it’s important to remember that the roof’s primary function is to protect the building’s contents and its people from the elements.”

Technical Bulletin 1-13 raises important considerations for the building owner, such as the added weight of a PV array and the impact of wind and fire approvals. The bulletin also lists potential PV system-specific requirements from manufacturers to maintain existing warranties; project documentation forms frequently required to install the PV system over an existing warranted roof; and general issues and additional services offered by manufacturers, such as single-source warranties for the roof system and solar integration.

SPRI gathered the information included in Technical Bulletin 1-13 from a survey of information available on websites and literature of SPRI member membrane manufacturers. As such, the bulletin serves as a summary of the PV-ready products, requirements and services currently offered by SPRI members and is available for distribution to customers.

“Each SPRI member may have its own PV ready program, and no SPRI member may necessarily be considered to have all program elements,” Ennis adds. “The building owner should always consult the manufacturer of the roof system specified for the new construction or reroofing project prior to the installation of a PV system on a warranted roof.”

In addition, Ennis writes about PV Ready rooftop considerations in “Tech Point”.

Matching Funds for S.C. Solar Installations on Educational Facilities

Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) Inc., a South Carolina nonprofit, is disbursing grants for the lesser of 50 percent or $50,000 of the cost of new solar photovoltaic installations to schools, school districts and education-focused non-profits in South Carolina. In aggregate, the PaCE Solar Grant Pilot seeks to disburse up to $250,000 in funding to institutions by first quarter 2014.

Applicants must provide at least 50 percent of the project cost and demonstrate that matching funds are available, in-hand or otherwise committed before PaCE will release any funds to a qualifying applicant selected for the program. Matching funds may be in the form of in-kind goods or services, such as installation or project design. Grant funds may only be applied to the cost of installing new, grid-connected PV systems located on property owned by the applicant.

Applications are due Oct. 1.