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April 19, 2011

Big solar array for Greenbridge

Photo by Bill Wright Photography [enlarge]

King County Housing Authority's Greenbridge community in White Center is getting a solar photovoltaic array. The authority said the 213-panel system on nine buildings is the largest residential solar array in the state.

Teams are installing panels on the roofs of 24 public housing units in Sixth Place Apartments. GGLO Architects, Glumac Engineers and Michael Nouwens Structural Consultants designed the rooftop system. Panels are being installed by A & R Solar, and overseen by Walsh Construction.

Because of cost constraints, the project was initially designed to be solar-ready but without panels. But KCHA said in a press release that pricing for the entire project came in lower than expected and that made installation of the system feasible.

The solar installation is costing $500,000. Of that, $375,000 came from federal Recovery Act funds and the remaining $125,000 came from federal solar tax credits.

When the solar panels go online this summer, they should generate 52,558 kilowatt hours per year, according to KCHA. Excess power generation will go back into the electric grid.

Four workers are being employed on the solar project. Dave Kozin, director of A & R Solar, said the work allowed his firm to hire new workers that he will keep on after the project is complete.

Jon Hall, senior associate at GGLO, said the team used many strategies to increase energy efficiency. Walls, roofs and windows are insulated higher than code requirements. Units also have Energy Star lighting, solar-powered attic fans to cool units in the summer and light tubes.

KCHA has solar installations on the roof of the Jim Wiley Community Center at Greenbridge, as well as at 12 other sites it owns or manages.

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