Colorado, in many ways, has been leading the solar revolution in residential construction. As far back as 2004, the state passed the first voter-led Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in the nation, requiring electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy sources. In addition to offering builders a variety of tax incentives and rebates to incorporate solar, the state is pushing toward the goal of 100% renewable energy sources by 2040.

Boulder, Colo.-based Sopris Homes, in the business of high-performance luxury homes for the past 25 years, has been on the front of this trend. As more communities desire and even require solar on new home construction, savvy builders have begun incorporating solar products that are both functional and attractive, says Sopris Homes President John Stevens.

“In some areas, we’re mandated to use solar,” said Stevens. “In other areas, it’s a choice. Most people don’t voluntarily pay for solar on new home construction because many don’t consider it to be an aesthetic improvement.”

Rooftop solar was a mandate when Stevens was contracted to build a 5,150 square-foot, five-bedroom net-zero home in the Portico Subdivision near Longmont, Colo. He faced the challenge of finding a solar solution that would complement a concrete tile roof more and was subtler than a traditional rack-mounted solar system.

Stevens turned to CertainTeed’s Apollo® Tile II concrete-tile integrated solar roofing system, making it the first project of its kind in the state of Colorado. Utilizing solar tiles integrated with concrete roofing tiles, Stevens created a seamless covering that serves as both a roof system and a source of energy generation. The completed roof system incorporated 229 solar tiles, each with a power rating of 68 watts of per tile, according to Stevens.

“I’m not aware of anything like it on the market here,” said Stevens referring to concrete-tile integrated solar systems. “You get the savings of solar energy generation and you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetic quality.”

Concrete-tile integrated solar coupled with with energy-saving mechanical systems and insulation techniques helped the Portico Subdivision home win a Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) residential installation award. With on-site solar generation, the home achieves a Home Energy Rating System Index score of -5. According to the Department of Energy, the home’s estimated annual energy cost is -$392 — meaning the home generates more energy than it uses.

Stevens said installing concrete-tile integrated solar was “a new experience for everyone,” but that CertainTeed’s team of local installers and trainers worked closely with Sopris Homes to help his team overcome the learning curve and ensure the installation was a success.

“The solar installer hadn’t used the product before,” said Stevens. “CertainTeed worked hard to make sure the installation was smooth and was there to answer questions. It was a great learning experience for everyone.”

To the average onlooker, the Portico Subdivision home looks like any other similarly-priced home in the neighborhood, according to Stevens. Thanks to innovative solar and energy saving techniques, however, he said “there is a lot going on under and on the roof."

“The homeowner has gotten a lot of nice comments about the roof,” Stevens added. “From a distance, it looks just like a regular concrete tile roof. People are surprised to learn that it is generating energy.”

For more information about Apollo Tile II, visit