This blog has been dormant the last four months. This is partly due to the busiest spring/summer in South Mountain’s history, for which I’m grateful. It’s also partly due to our six-month endeavor to re-design and re-build our website (which consumed whatever time might have been left over for blogging, or anything else for that matter).
The new website will be ready to launch in 3-5 weeks, and blogging will resume at that time with renewed vigor and greater regularity.
There is plenty to tell. I’ll leave that mostly for later, but while I’m at it I’ll show two recent solar projects.
The photo above is a solar system we built last winter to supply the energy needs for a large property. It’s located on a small hillside above a staging area where construction materials – stone, wood, clay, and loam – have been stored for many years. It’s the new power plant for a compound consisting of four houses.
The photo below was taken during the recent construction of two canopies covered with 128 kilowatts of PV panels to help supply the electricity for our local supermarket. It is now completed (no photos yet) and will begin to produce energy just about the time our new website is ready.
On May 6, 2011, I wrote in this space, and in an OpEd in the Vineyard Gazette called “Where will all the solar go?” that parking lots have great solar potential.
Parking lots consist of land that has already been used up – it no longer has either agricultural or habitat potential. Most have utility infrastructure nearby. Parking lot canopies are more expensive than typical ground mount systems, but the real estate is free, and it brings additional benefits to the real estate owners.
And benefits to those of us who use the parking lots. Instead of the sun baking your car to 110 degrees while it’s parked at Cronig’s Market, the roof will be making electricity while your car stays cool – made in the shade.
I also said last year, that we were “hoping to do a demonstration parking lot canopy project within the next year or so, possibly at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.” Here it is, just a bit more than a year later, and we’ve done more than a demonstration project – we’ve done the real thing!
Eran Ben-Joseph, in his book Rethinking a Lot – The Design and Culture of Parking, says: “ It is estimated that 500 million surface parking spaces exist in the United States alone – a number that increases every day. In some US cities, parking lots cover more than a third of the land area, becoming the single most salient landscape feature of our built environment.”
That is a staggering area – 3600 square miles, more than double the size of Rhode Island. What a resource!
He goes on to say, “Every day hundreds of thousands of office workers, mall shoppers, and even museum visitors arrive at their destination by car, enter a typically bare and monotonous asphalted lot, park their cars, struggle to find a safe walking route, to finally arrive at a welcoming lobby.”
I hope in the future they will be able to park and walk under canopies like those at Cronig’s. And I hope our future, here at SMC, includes more and more solar parking lots.
I’ll let you know when the website is ready to fly.