NC Sustainable Energy Association


Discovery Place Branches Out with New Solar Trees

February 27, 2012 6:12 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Charlotte’s skyline took new shape over the weekend as Discovery Place installed two colorful, sculptural solar energy systems on the top of its Carol Grotnes Belk Parking Complex. Each standing 20 feet in height, the "solar trees" are a highly-visible component of a larger educational initiative featuring information about new and established energy sources. The trees will be used to power an electric vehicle charging station on level three of the parking deck and will offset energy use in the Museum’s adjacent Education building.

“We chose a bold and unconventional-looking system that will intrigue passersby and make a conspicuous statement about the developing landscape of renewable energy,” said John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place, Inc. “Our hope is that visitors will learn more about how solar energy fits into a portfolio of different sustainable energy sources.”

Solar Energy Fuels Many City of Raleigh Projects

February 24, 2012 2:27 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Since 1985, the City of Raleigh has been committed to harnessing sunlight as an alternative energy source for buildings, street lights and other venues. The Neuse River Solar Farm is just the latest solar powered project involving the City. Here are some of the others:

·        Rooftop solar photovoltaic array at the City’s E.M. Johnson Water Treatment Plant off of Falls of Neuse Road. This 250-kilowatt solar array on top of the water treatment plant’s clearwell building produces an estimated 325,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, roughly equivalent to the energy use of 25 homes in North Carolina. This also is the equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 230 metric tons annually. Durham-based Carolina Solar Energy owns and operates the solar array and sells the renewable energy produced by the project to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The City of Raleigh is leasing the rooftop space to Carolina Solar Energy for the solar array. No City capital is involved in this project;

·        Rooftop solar array at the City’s Brentwood Road Operations Center. The array was installed by Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, and is owned by the City of Raleigh. This 30-kilowatt project produces about 74,000-kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, equivalent to the energy use of about six North Carolina homes. The renewable energy produced by the solar array is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The Brentwood Road Operations Center also has more efficient LED lighting, including solar-powered LED lights;

·        Two rooftop solar arrays at the City’s new Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Operations Center on Beacon Lake Drive, which was formally opened last month. A 50-kilowatt array is located at the administration building; a second array, this one a 25-kilowatt facility, is at a vehicle wash building. Combined, the two solar arrays produce approximately 103,500-kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This is equivalent to the energy use of about eight North Carolina homes. The two arrays, owned by the City and developed by Sundance Power Systems of Weaverville, are expected to provide a minimum of 12.5 percent of the two buildings’ energy use. Plans calls for any excess renewable energy generated by the two solar arrays to be sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers;

·        Rooftop solar array at the Raleigh Convention Center, a City of Raleigh facility. This project is currently under construction, with completion scheduled in April. The 500-kilowatt solar array will be the second largest convention center solar array in the nation, covering about 60 percent of the roof of Raleigh’s Downtown convention center. It is expected to produce 750,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, roughly equivalent to the annual energy use of about 70 homes in North Carolina. The team of FLS Energy and PowerWorks Electric is the solar array’s developer, owner and operator. FLS Energy, based in Asheville, and PowerWorks Electric of Mooresville are leasing the convention center rooftop space from the City to operate the solar array. Progress Energy Carolinas will purchase renewable energy produced by the solar array and distribute it to the utility’s customers;

·        The City owns small solar arrays at the Annie Louise Wilkerson, M.D., Nature Preserve Park off of Raven Ridge Road and at three bus stop shelters. The bus stop shelters are located on Capital Boulevard near the Spring Forest Road intersection, on Capital Boulevard at the Calvary Drive intersection, and at the City’s Transit Operations Center, 4104 Poole Road. The renewable energy produced by the solar array at the nature preserve park is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas for distribution to its customers. The renewable energy produced from the solar arrays at the bus stop shelters is used by the City for lighting and message signs at the shelters;

·        Solar thermal hot water heating systems have been installed at five City of Raleigh fire stations. Four of the systems were installed by Sundance Power Systems of Weaverville and the remaining system was put in by Petra Engineering in Charlotte. The systems heat water at the fire stations. A solar thermal system placed on the roof of the Municipal Building in 1985 still produces hot water for City government’s Downtown administration building;

·        Two solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles have been installed at 616 S. Salisbury Street in a City-owned parking lot near the Raleigh Convention Center. PowerWorks Electric, headquartered in Mooresville, designed and installed the charging stations, which were unveiled in December. Progress Energy Carolinas and the City of Raleigh teamed up for this two-year research and development project involving the charging stations. Progress Energy Carolinas and the City use the stations to charge their respective fleets of plug-in electric vehicles. The charging stations are not available for public use. However, the City has installed 18 non-solar powered charging stations throughout Raleigh that are available for public use;

·        Also just outside the Raleigh Convention Center is the Big Belly Solar Trash Compactor at the corner of Salisbury Street and Lenoir Street. The compactor is powered by solar energy and holds four times as much trash as regular containers. An electronic chip installed in the compactor notifies the City’s Solid Waste Services Department when it becomes full, saving cost, staff time and vehicle emissions; and,

·        The City of Raleigh was the first North Carolina municipality to install solar-powered LED street lights. These lights are located in City Plaza and in the parking lot at Campbell University’s Law School, both Downtown, and at the City’s Marsh Creek Park Operations Facility off of New Hope Road. The solar powered-LED street lights were manufactured by Progress Solar Solutions, a local company that is not affiliated with Progress Energy Carolinas.

These solar energy initiatives are part of the City of Raleigh’s commitment to sustainability concepts, innovation and partnerships with the private sector to build stronger clean energy technology in the Capital City. These projects help create local jobs. For more information, contact the City of Raleigh Office of Sustainability at (919) 996-3840 or visit the City’s website at

'Green' Certifications LEEDing Facility Managers

February 24, 2012 2:16 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

By Ashley Halligan
Property Management Analyst
Software Advice

With sustainability on the minds of designers, architects and facility managers, deciding whether the investment necessary to achieve “green” certifications is worth it may seem overwhelming. There are labels and certifications for the facilities themselves, and professional accreditations for industry professionals. Some are offered by government agencies; others are distributed through nonprofits and international organizations. Where do you begin? And why bother?

If you manage a facility, here are the green certifications and accreditations experts say you should pay attention to.


ESA Renewables Partners With Advanced Energy

February 23, 2012 2:56 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

ESA Renewables, a turnkey solar solutions provider, has partnered with Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. ESA has utilized AE Solar Energy's Solaron® and PV Powered™ inverters for all of its installations completed to date. Having recently been factory authorized, ESA is now certified to install and service any AE inverter operating on a solar energy generating power plant. ESA is the only company outside of AE to be a factory authorized service provider on their inverters. 

"We are pleased with our decision to add AE Solar Energy as a preferred supplier," said Jeffrey Burkett, president of ESA Renewables. "Our engineers and technicians have successfully completed the factory training and are fully factory authorized and qualified to install and service these solar products." 

Video: Raleigh Convention Center Adds Solar Panels

February 23, 2012 2:38 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Watch this report from NBC 17

Lime Energy Delivers Clean Energy Solutions to NY Schools

February 23, 2012 2:31 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Lime Energy Co. (NASDAQ: LIME) Lime Energy announced today the completion of a comprehensive lighting efficiency upgrade for three school systems in New York.  This $2.3 million project encompassed over 1 million square feet of classroom and building space on multiple campuses.

“By replacing outdated lighting with lower wattage, high performance alternatives across the buildings, Lime is saving the school system 1.8 million kilowatt hours and $291,000 per year in energy costs, “ said Jim Smith, Lime Energy’s Vice President of Operations. “We’ve increased lighting levels in every classroom and space while using less wattage and freeing up significant funds to be used elsewhere in the school system.”

NC Sustainable Energy Buzz: NC Schools Generate Wind Power

February 18, 2012 5:32 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

North Carolina is the leader in the Southeast in the clean energy economy. Below are just a few of the recent announcements and innovations from across the state. Follow each link to read more about these projects. 



North Carolina's Wind for Schools project team installed nine projects in the Tar Heel State in 2011 and hopes to facilitate more installations in 2012. Dave French, associate director of the Appalachian State University Wind Application Center, credits the group's preliminary work preparing for the multiple installations which was rewarded when funding was received late in the year. 


The North Carolina Energy Star Appliance Replacement and Rebate program reopened on Feb. 15. The program aims to cut consumer’s energy costs by providing incentivies for them to replace older, less-efficient models, according to a news release.  


Joel Olsen of O2 energies Inc. plans to build his company’s largest solar project to date. The 4.4-megawatt, $15 million solar farm, planned on a field that Ararat Rock Products Co. of Mount Airy leased to raise corn on until this year, is one of four projects of that size that Olsen plans to build by September.

Success Stories: Self-Help Credit Union Launches Energy Efficiency Loan Program

February 18, 2012 2:37 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Self-Help Credit Union is offering $15 million in low-interest loans for energy-efficiency projects in Charlotte and other cities. Over 50 economic developers, energy professionals and others attended the Feb. 16 launch of the program in Charlotte.

The event was as part of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's Clean Energy Connections education series. NCSEA's Communications & Government Affairs Specialist, Amneris Solano, spoke with Melissa Malkin-Weber, Green Initiatives Manager at Self-Help Credit Union, about the program. 

More businesses are seeing the benefits of adopting energy efficient practices. Has that lead to the need for this kind of loan program? 

The Self-Help Energy Loan Fund is exciting because it opens the door to energy efficiency to those borrowers who might have not been considering it at all. For instance, where a small-business is borrowing for working capital, we can help them improve their efficiency by upgrading their old T12 lights or inefficient HVAC.

Why should building owners take advantage of this program?

There are still a lot of disincentives that prevent even very savvy property managers from making energy investments in their buildings. For instance, they may have scoped out great projects with very strong return on investment over time, but it’s hard to make that investment when there’s economic uncertainty. Small businesses face the additional disincentive that they may not have staff with enough bandwidth and resources to identify the best energy investments. We hope that the reduced-cost financing will encourage building owners to take a second look at their energy investment opportunities.

How does this loan program allow businesses to meet their energy savings goals?

One of our key goals is to reduce the cost barrier to implementation. Because of Bank of America’s funding and leadership, we will be able to offer a 1.5 percent interest rate discount through the Self-Help Energy Loan Fund.

National Certified Energy Practitioners Exam Offered at Cape Fear Community College

February 17, 2012 4:18 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

Cape Fear Community College is now a registered NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam Provider.

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a volunteer board of renewable energy stakeholders whose mission is to promote quality in renewable energy training and technology.  Achievement of the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam is a way for candidates to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation and operation of solar photovoltaic systems and serves to enhance employment opportunities in the field of solar. 

Successful completion of fall curriculum course ALT 220 Photovoltaic System Technology is required to sit for the exam.  For more information about the NABCEP Entry Level Program at CFCC, contact John Wojciechowski – CFCC Sustainability Technologies Lead Instructor at jwojciechowski@cfcc.eduor (910) 362-7761


ReVenture Park Expands To Include Future Eco-District

February 14, 2012 6:53 PM | Posted By: Amneris Solano

ReVenture Park is now control an additional 578 acres of residential land that wraps the primary ReVenture site. This brings the total project size to 1, 245 acres that will include a proposed mix of residential, retail, office and industrial spaces. The vision for the new housing component is a community where sustainability is ingrained into people’s lifestyles and is woven through the fabric of the community. Forsite has engaged UNC Charlotte’s Urban Design program to help mold the initial vision and design principles that will be incorporated throughout the project.

"This is a unique and interesting project," said Professor David Walters, Director of UNC-Charlotte's Urban Design program, who is working on the project with his colleague, Dr. Jose Gamez. "It has great potential for creating a national model for a sustainable community in the face of future uncertainties about climate change and energy supplies. The graduate Urban Design Program and its research arm, the Design+Society Research Center, are ideally placed to explore community design solutions that go beyond current thinking yet are financially feasible in a recovering property market".