New York City Gets Mapped for Solar

by | May 11, 2010

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A twin-engine Shrike Commander equipped with a laser system flew aerial missions over New York City to collect highly precise 3-D images of the city and its rooftops, trees, wetlands and everything else, reports the New York Times.

The data collected with a laser technology known as Lidar (light detection and ranging) will help the city determine if there are any wetlands and how many flat and pitched roofs there are to create an online solar map that will help assess the city’s capacity for solar power, according to the article.

The project, which will cost about $450,000, is part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s environmental agenda, known as PlaNYC. The federal Energy Department provided partial funding of $205,470. PlaNYC calls for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s municipal buildings and operations by 30 percent by 2017.

Sanborn, the mapping firm hired for the project, told the New York Times it scanned the city at about 3,500 feet in nine six-hour, post-midnight flights from April 14 to April 30. The collected data will be analyzed over the next several months, producing solar and flood maps by the end of the year.

To help businesses meet New York City’s new building energy-efficiency laws, CodeGreen developed an online software tool, ProAct, which tracks sustainability and operational performance in existing buildings.

The new tool is expected to help building owners comply with mandatory energy and water efficiency reporting required by the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The new laws, which recently passed in New York City, require all buildings over 50,000 sq. ft. to report energy and water efficiency benchmarks by May 1, 2011.

The software tracks more than 25 independent metrics including on-going sustainable building operations such as energy and water use, recycling rates, recycled paper purchases, cleaning products and maintenance schedules. It also tracks and reports performance data to streamline the LEED application process.

For government buildings, New York City is deploying TRIRIGA’s environmental sustainability software, TREES, across more than 4,000 buildings.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, businesses are saving money with solar energy. As an example, NFI Solar, an affiliate of National Freight Industries, which owns 6 million-square-feet of commercial real estate in New Jersey, is taking advantage of unused roof space to install solar panels, reports

The company’s warehouse in Cherry Hill, for example, generates 1.32-megawatts  (MW) of electricity from thousands of solar photovoltaic panels atop its roof that is bigger than six football fields. It cuts the warehouse’s utility bill by 25 percent.

Thanks to the state’s solar renewable-energy certificate program solar installations are on the rise with commercial installations accounting for 57 percent of the program, according to the article. Also contributing to New Jersey’s strong solar growth is the federal government’s 30 percent tax incentive for solar projects.

As an example, Dow Jones & Company plans to install a 4.1 MW solar-power system at its corporate offices in central New Jersey. The system will supply on average nearly 15 percent of the site’s energy needs. The company said it will finance it in part through PSE&G’s Solar Loan Program.

PSE&G is targeting big, flat roofed buildings to generate 23-megawatts for its Solar-4-All program, a $515 million investment program in renewable energy and green jobs, reports The four-year program is expected to double PSE&G’s solar capacity to 80-megawatts by the end of 2013.

ProLogis, which owns 19 million-square-feet of distribution space in New Jersey, has about 13.3 megawatts of rooftop solar projects around the world and not one on its New Jersey properties but would like to some day, according to the article.

ProLogis recently signed a master agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE) to provide approximately 100 MW of generated power to the utility through its rooftop solar program. The company is planning a second rooftop solar project in southern California that will generate 11.1 MW of electricity across five buildings as a first phase of the master agreement.

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