New financial model opens traditionally-difficult markets, execs say
Nashville, Tennessee July 09, 2014
Stuart Wiston, President of New Wind Energy Solutions in Nashville, stood atop the roof on Eugenia Ave. in Southeast Nashville and looked out over the expanse of 250 solar panels which now produce power that helps the building owner, CB Ragland, offset their electricity costs. This solar project, however, is unlike any other in Nashville or most of the United States. Besides harnessing energy from the sun, Wiston's company has found the formula for making a new commercial roof become a cash cow instead of an expense pig. "The solar doesn't just offset costs, it does so much faster than traditional solar – in about half the time. Even without local incentives, it's usually three to five years," Wiston said. "That is huge if you are a commercial property owner as it now brings solar into a time frame that makes sense as a business decision."
The Nashville-based company's solar solution, PoweRoof™, has garnered attention not only from the solar sector, but also from the roofing industry. Replacing a roof can be an expensive proposition for a building owner. PoweRoof's combination of solar and a new highly-reflective surface helps their customers pay for the much-needed roof with the added benefit of creating a new revenue stream for businesses. It is, Wiston said, a true win-win-win. "It is great for the client to get a new roof and solar energy to help pay for it – it is great for the solar and the roofing industries and the people they employ – and it is great for the environment. It truly follows the sustainability mantra of People, Planet, Profit."
Ralph Velasquez, New Wind's new Senior Director of Business Development for PoweRoof™, is well-known in the green roof industry. He came out of early retirement this year to join the team out of, "excitement for the best thing to happen to solar in years. New Wind figured it out – cutting-edge panel technology, borrowed from the Building Integrated (BIPV) solar arena, combined with cool roof technology and federal solar incentives to create PoweRoof™. The combined approach is interwoven to reduce the ROI [Return on Investment] for solar down to historic lows, while effectively bringing roofs into the ROI equation for the first time."
Historically, he explained, roofs are only considered as operational costs to the building owner, one with extremely long depreciation time frames well beyond their expected life cycle. "PoweRoof™ can help pay for a new roof as well as provide solar, and it can do so because the two elements fundamentally need each other to form a system that works. It is genius as well as practical and affordable. In my opinion, this is why this is one of the most exciting ideas in solar and the built environment in a long time."
C. B. Ragland Company, renewing its commitment to sustainability, is now reaping the benefits of the PoweRoof™ system. Michael Hayes, President and COO said, "We saw an investment we could make with a new roof that would pay for itself in a short amount of time and generate enough energy to offset 100% our company's energy needs. We felt that was a good investment for our firm, our family, and the environment."
Hayes, whose company has a history of advancing solar usage in middle Tennessee, said C. B. Ragland now generates approximately 120 mega Watts of electricity in Davidson County. Southeastern Salvage, a tenant of the building, he said, is also enjoying the benefits of this new roof system with decreased solar heat gain in their space in the Ragland Business Center on Eugenia Avenue in Nashville.
Wiston said the data the system is supplying is truly exciting. "The last analysis of the data showed the PoweRoof™ has produced up to 34% more power (kW) and is generating over 30% more energy (kWh) than a same-sized traditional solar system would," said Wiston.
Integral to the design, Wiston added, are the unique panels which collect the sun from both their front and back sides. Jerry Hughes, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Prism Solar Technologies headquartered in New York and one of the few fabricators of bi-facial panels in the world, said Prism is excited to be partnered with New Wind to provide panels for the PoweRoof™ solar system.
Prism, Hughes said, has been a technology innovator in the solar and holographic fields since 2005 and the company has worked tirelessly to continue to improve and hone the bifacial cells' light-collection capabilities to become one of the technology's pioneers and leading manufacturers. Hughes, who has the benefit of not only being embedded in the solar world, also owned a roofing company in Colorado, understands how the two industries can be married. "This helps now more than ever with PoweRoof™ in play."
"Reflective roofs can result up to 40 percent additional energy so you can produce more while saving on your air conditioning bill. Bifacial solar and reflective roofs will become the commercial rooftop standard," Hughes said. "Our technology, while being revolutionary, is based on science that has been proven and now has become affordable," he said.
Wiston added, "Companies like CB Ragland understand the importance and benefits of PoweRoof™ and the emerging green industry. In the business world, Michael Hayes and companies like his are visionaries with us. When we can help a company like them meet their objectives and do so in a way that it helps the planet along with their bottom line, I say that is a pretty good day."