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South Burlington to add solar array to Market Street complex

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:10 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The city of South Burlington plans to add a solar array canopy to the roof of its new building at 180 Market Street.

The Market Street building is the centerpiece of South Burlington’s town center project and will serve as the new city hall, library, and senior center. Ilona Blanchard, project director for the city, says the design of the building was always going to feature a solar array on the roof.

“Wiemann Lamphere designed the building to support a solar array," Blanchard said. "And if you’ll notice there are beams that stick out over the edge of the building, and those are there to support special modules.” She also says the solar energy captured can’t go to the city grid, so it will go directly to the building itself. “In our case, because we have several other arrays, we sort of maxed out our ability to use net-metering. So, in this case, the power from the array will go directly into the building.”

Mike McCarthy, the Lead Commercial Solar Project Consultant for Sun Commons, says the canopy-style of the array is not very common for a rooftop structure. “This is definitely a unique architectural feature, but from an attachment and a solar standpoint, it’s very similar to what we’ve been doing with parking lot canopies,” he said.

McCarthy says this is a smart design for the building because the solar panels will be double-sided, allowing sunlight to be captured from the sky, and also from light reflected off the ground and the building itself. “So, as an architectural feature, its form and function are coming together for the solar here, for something that’s beautiful, economically makes sense, and is great for the planet,” he said.

Blanchard says this new solar array should account for one-third of the energy used at the new building. “I think the important thing about this project is that it provided renewable energy and we can claim it for ourselves,” She said.

Construction for the solar array is set to begin next month and will follow the project’s timeline, which will have the entire building finished and opened by July of next year.

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