Solar structures — solar awnings, carports, pavilions, and even bike racks —have become a major trend nationally, and are picking up steam locally. As a means to harness the growing interest in taking solar structures to the next level in terms of good design, St. Louis-based solar installer Microgrid Energy teamed with the Washington University Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts to put on the Solar Structures Design Competition 2011.
“Solar integrated design is no longer just a buzz phrase; it is happening,” said Rick Hunter, Microgrid CEO. “The time is ripe for taking it to the next level by elevating the form and function of solar structures.”
“It only made sense to partner with the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts for this competition, as the school was created to help foster the vision that design and the visual arts play significant roles in inspiring solutions to social and environmental concerns,” said Hunter.
“The submittals were very inspiring and we were fortunate to have such a talented group of respondents. As time moves forward, the face of architecture will continue to change. In our time, architecture must respond to society’s environmental challenges and integrate our most advanced renewable energy harnessing technologies. It is the responsibility of architecture to imbue these technologies with poetic value, which I believe our respondents have.” Paul J. Donnelly FAIA, PE, LEED AP, Jury Chair, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.
The contest invited architecture students and practicing architects to design any or all of the following solar power integrated prototypes: pavilion, bike rack, or awning. The response was impressive, with over 70 registrants, including national and international participants. The winners are:
- Solar Pavilion -1st Place – Solar Canopies by Avik Guha, Christopher Chapel, John Brown
- Solar Pavilion – Honorable Mention – Sol Pavilion by Caleb Fisher and Steven Schneider
- Solar Bike Rack-Solar Big Wheel by Corey DiRutigliano
- Solar Awning -Solar Roller by Corey DiRutigliano
This competition is part of Microgrid Energy’s effort to promote the development of solar energy across the St. Louis region. As part of this effort, Microgrid expects to use all winning designs in projects it builds within the next year.
Microgrid has been at the forefront of the growing solar structure trend, having installed a number of solar awnings and a solar carport project.
“We also are working on a number of solar carport projects which have integrated Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Compared to regular rooftop solar installations, solar carports offer dual purpose of shading and protection from the elements, easy cleaning, no need to worry about removing solar to replace a roof down the road,” said Microgrid President Marc Lopata.
“These structures are surprisingly cost-effective, since you can normally take the Federal incentives against the cost of the structure, and not just the solar,” he added.
Source: St. Louis CNR