A growing number of CEOs of mid-size and small companies are trimming energy costs, benefiting from federal tax policy and making employees happy by drawing efficient return on investment from an executive perk once reserved for the largest sites: energy-producing solar carports. Advanced Roofing Inc., Florida’s largest commercial re-roofing contractor, has installed a demonstration project with a solar carport, electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment and rooftop solar arrays at its Fort Lauderdale headquarters to showcase the company’s latest innovations.
The solar showcase, now in full operation, includes a new rooftop solar array and a 16-space custom solar carport with solar-powered EV charging equipment. Advanced Roofing shares the 7-acre campus with its sister companies Advanced Air System and Advanced Green Technologies (AGT), the state’s largest commercial solar contractor. The solar carport demonstration project has 84-kilowatt (kW) power capacity, producing over 124,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year. The new carport and rooftop solar arrays add to two existing arrays at the headquarters site, which together produce an additional 100 kW – equivalent to enough energy to power approximately 30 average US homes.
“With all these solar solutions in place, we’re producing 100 percent of our main office’s energy needs, and that’s a doable goal for so many businesses that own their office and industrial locations,” said Rob Kornahrens, CEO of Advanced Roofing and AGT. He noted solar carport prices have dropped about 50 percent in the last five years through new technology and the company’s customized solutions and designs.
As electric vehicles’ (EV) popularity grows, Advanced Roofing – one of the nation’s “greenest” roofing companies – is also positioned to expand its role in the EV charge station market with a partnership with national EV charging industry leader ChargePoint. Already benefiting from electric vehicles’ energy savings, Advanced Roofing has added a Tesla Model S, a Tesla Model X and a Chevy Volt to its fleet.
Multinational corporations, hospitals, and other institutions took the lead in solar carport use during the last five-years, said Kornahrens, whose company has installed a total of more than 245 Megawatts of rooftop solar arrays and solar carports thought the United States – including two solar carports as large as six football fields for Lockheed Martin in Florida. With solar carport installations rising steadily nationwide since 2010, “many smaller companies that lack the rooftop space for a solar array are finding solar carports very practical.”
With a 30 percent tax credit available under the Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) until December 31, 2019, and many businesses in a strong cash position, AGT’s average solar carport ROI of four to ten years is proving a strong draw – especially for CEOs and entrepreneurs ready to show their brands’ environmental commitment. New federal tax policy’s bonus depreciation makes up to 100 percent of the cost deductible in the first year of operation, Kornahrens added. While changes in corporate tax rates benefit businesses, he noted, deductions for monthly electric costs are now lower than in previous years, making energy self-sufficiency more compelling.
“Business owners with a deep commitment to sustainability are increasing solar carport demand here and statewide, taking advantage of the current economic and tax policy window,” Kornahrens said. “It’s a welcome benefit for their employees, whose cars stay cooler and protected from sunlight, and who enjoy the security of lighting systems installed under a carport’s solar panels,” he added. AGT computes ROI based on energy production and financial incentive, so additional benefits include intangibles such as employee satisfaction and engagement, preserving driveway pavement and protecting cars.
Built with two different panel technologies, the new carport at Advanced Roofing features the 325W panels that are bi-facial and will provide light transmission through the carport, plus energy production from any reflected indirect light below. The other half of the carport has 350W high efficiency monocrystalline panels, designed to provide maximum power density per square foot. A rain deck installed below the 350W modules will provide weather protection for parking and company events.
These days Kornahrens, a longtime leader in Florida’s construction and solar industries, enjoys the convenience of plugging his Tesla into the new carport’s electric vehicle charger. “It’s great to see solar become a major part of more companies’ commitment to sustainability – and to their employees,” he said.