Saturday, May 2, 2009

Building Codes and Roof Anchors

One of the biggest impediments to installing rooftop solar panels or wind energy devices such as helical windmills is the cost and risk associated with properly anchoring them to a building's roof. Extra effort is required to ensure retrofit roof penetrations do not leak; in many cases, installation of the roof anchors takes the majority of the installation time. The noise from cutting through the roof can significantly disrupt those on the floor or two below.

If "rooftop renewables" are designed into a building during initial construction, the cost is substantially lower. However, it may not be feasible to install these rooftop renewables when the building is first built (due to limited capital or other reasons).

A middle ground is to provide rooftop anchors during initial construction, regardless of whether or not rooftop renewables are installed with initial construction. That way, solar or wind devices could be installed at a later date much more easily and with no need to breach the roof seal.

All new data centers should be designed for the later installation of rooftop renewables, even if they aren't part of the initial build-out.

Taking this a step further, I advocate the following: building codes should be revised to **REQUIRE** all new commercial buildings with a roof area greater than 1000 square feet to install roof anchors every x (20?) feet, with a TBD load rating for each anchor. (These anchors should also be required when major roof renovations are initiated as well.) Requiring these anchors will facilitate the broader adoption of rooftop renewables in data centers and other commercial buildings.

I hope others will adopt this cause; together we can effect real changes,

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