RISE Announces New Certified Solar Roofing Professional Eligibility Track

Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) has announced a new eligibility track for its Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP) designation, which will enable a greater number of solar roofing professionals to qualify for this certification.

The new eligibility track allows those who have three years’ experience, involvement in a minimum of five projects installing commercial and residential roof-mounted PV systems, and 40 hours of recognized education and training eligibility to sit for the CSRP exam.

In the past, RISE had identified three eligibility tracks to qualify to take the exam. Candidates were required to demonstrate they meet at least one of these tracks.

The new track has been added to the list of the previous three minimum entry tracks, which are:

  • Three years’ experience installing roof systems as a roofing contractor or employee of a roofing contractor in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized education or training.
  • Three years’ experience providing technical roof system consulting services that include a minimum of five installed roof system projects in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized training programs.
  • Two- or four-year construction-related degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency or state-approved agency recognized by the U.S. secretary of education or training.

“The RISE board of directors recognized that many rooftop solar professionals possess the unique roofing and PV system experience critical to the roles of a CSRP, but who previously were not eligible to sit for the exam,” explains RISE executive director, John Schehl. “The new eligibility track opens a door of opportunity for these professionals and provides greater choice to the public.”

RISE and the CSRP credential benefit roofing professionals by demanding a higher standard for all rooftop solar installations by providing a distinguished, nationally recognized professional credential that can enhance a career, satisfying consumers by protecting their roofing and solar investments, increasing the number of successful rooftop solar installations, providing the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals, promoting a healthier roofing industry by differentiating between those who understand how to integrate those systems with the roof safely and effectively from those who simply understand PV systems, and ensuring roof-mounted PV systems work is overseen by individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in roofing and PV system technologies, safety and construction processes.

RISE was created by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and the National Roofing Contractors Association to provide a means of evaluating and certifying solar roofing professional to support the widespread use of rooftop solar energy. RISE evaluates and certifies solar energy installers for knowledge about critical roof system construction and maintenance practices necessary to support successful rooftop solar energy installations based on principles regarding the installation and maintenance of rooftop solar energy systems without adversely affecting roof system performance and service life. RISE also provides the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals.

Web-based Platform Allows Individuals and Organizations to Support Clean-energy Development

SolarCity is transforming energy delivery by making solar power more accessible and affordable than previously possible. Now the company wants to provide a new avenue for individuals and institutions from around the world to participate in and benefit from that transformation. SolarCity has announced plans to launch a new, Web-based investment platform through which it intends to allow a broad range of investors, including individuals and organizations of all sizes, to participate directly in solar investments that have previously only been available to large financial institutions.

“People want to support clean energy development. Customers are seeing the benefits of getting solar for their homes but they would like to participate in other ways as well,” says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “Previously, only institutional investors could participate in the financing of most solar assets. With our investment platform, we’re hoping to allow far more individuals and smaller organizations to participate in the transformation to a cleaner, more distributed infrastructure.”

SolarCity has acquired a privately held financial technology company, Common Assets LLC, which developed the investment platform SolarCity will use to distribute its investment products. Tim Newell, the president and chief executive officer of Common Assets, and John Witchel, Common Assets’ chief architect, have joined SolarCity as part of the transaction. Newell, who will serve as SolarCity’s vice president of financial products, brings more than 25 years of investment, technology and government experience, including roles as senior advisor to private equity firm US Renewables Group; managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s clean technology affiliate fund; managing director and head of investment banking for E*Trade’s investment banking affiliate, E*Offering; and head of investment bank Robertson Stephen’s financial technology group.

Witchel, who will serve as SolarCity’s senior technology architect for financial products, is an experienced technology executive and successful entrepreneur with experience in large-scale financial innovation. Notably, Witchel was co-founder and chief technology officer of Prosper Marketplace, where he oversaw design and development of the first person-to-person online lending marketplace in the U.S. Common Assets was backed by U.S. Renewables Group (USRG), a private equity firm that specializes in renewable energy investments, and Jim McDermott, managing partner of USRG, served as chairman of Common Assets prior to the acquisition.

“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact—both for their own financial future and our global future—by investing in the shift to solar energy,” says Newell. “Unlike crowdfunding and community solar approaches that typically aggregate investors to provide loans for individual projects, SolarCity plans to offer debt investments backed by diversified portfolios of solar assets.”

Financing Available for Renewable Energy Projects of 500 kW to 25 MW

Conergy, a solar photovoltaic service and solution provider, has launched its Conergy Fund I program. The program, which provides financing to large-scale construction projects in the United States, makes the use of and savings from solar power a possibility to businesses.

With an initial target volume of $100 million and backing by Conergy’s main investor, Kawa Capital Management, The Conergy Fund I provides financing for solar power plants and qualified commercial projects with renewable energy capabilities between 500 kilowatts and 25 megawatts of power. The fund streamlines the financing process by managing the financial analysis, credit rating, administration and finance, billing, and collection of power purchase agreements (PPAs) on behalf of the project.

“The Fund is ideal for mid-to-large size organizations such as municipalities, school districts, utility companies, and investment-grade corporations because the savings achieved last for decades,” says Anthony Fotopoulos, CEO of Conergy Americas. “Not only are these entities reducing energy consumption, but the fixed energy prices secured through the PPAs are significantly lower than market prices for conventional grid power, providing additional savings to the end-user.”

Access to competitive financing that can monetize local and federal incentives is a key barrier to the widespread adoption of solar photovolatics (PV) via PPAs – only about 40 percent of commercial buildings or power plants are able to secure this financing. The fund bridges this gap by removing the funding barrier that has historically hampered organizations from installing photovoltaic (PV) systems on their facilities.

Through The Fund, Conergy and its partners also provide project development and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, including engineering, design, and subsequent operations and maintenance management.

Kawa Capital Management acquired Conergy in August 2013 to create a globally unique player in the solar energy industry. Conergy’s expertise in providing complete solar energy solutions and Kawa’s established financial and management strategies were the groundwork for the Conergy Fund I program and will serve as the foundation for future financial solutions in the US electricity market.

“The Conergy Fund I program is the first step in a long relationship with Kawa. We already have five projects in the United States utilizing The Fund and expect to develop and acquire projects in other growth markets in 2014,” says Fotopoulos.

S-5 Announces Metal Plus as New Distributor

S-5!, a manufacturer of ancillary attachment technology for the metal roofing industry, has announced its most recent full-line distributor, Metal Plus LLC.

Metal Plus produces a line of standing-seam brackets designed to simplify temporary staging or scaffolding for metal roofing projects. Because the Metal Plus brackets allow contractors to get to work quickly and safely, they make an excellent platform for installing S-5! products. Pairing these two product lines, roofers, contractors and solar integrators can quickly and cost-effectively attach solar arrays, snow retention systems and other ancillaries to metal roofs without damaging the roof.

Rob Haddock, CEO at S-5!, feels confident the relationship is a good fit for both companies and states: “At S-5! we take innovation, development, thorough testing, and proper market introduction very seriously. We pride ourselves in providing only the best solutions in the metal roofing industry, and I have been impressed with Metal Plus’s commitment to the same.”

According to Mario Lallier, owner of Metal Plus: “We realize that becoming a distributor for S-5! marries two great products, destined to make life for metal roofing installers and contractors much easier. The synergy between metal roofs, S-5! clamps, and Metal Plus brackets equals cost and labor savings upwards of 15 to 25 percent.”

A Solar Installer Explains the Many Ways Roofing Contractors Can Be Involved in Solar Installations

The solar-power industry has changed dramatically in the past five years. Products and manufacturers have come and gone; tax incentives have become less attractive; and requirements for utilities to maintain a certain percentage of their energy portfolio from renewable sources are not enough to help the market in most places. Despite these negatives, unique financing mechanisms and the remarkable decrease in the cost of solar panels keep the industry booming. These ups and downs demonstrate why Matthew Bennett, vice president for design and engineering and founder of Dovetail Solar & Wind, Athens, Ohio, refers to the industry as the “solar coaster”.

Bennett’s business, which was established in 1995, installs solar on residential and commercial buildings. As such, he has worked with a number of roofing contractors over the years and sees synergies between the trades. Roofing asked Bennett how roofing contractors and solar installers can improve their relationship and achieve successful solar installations upon watertight roofs.

Roofing: When must you coordinate with roofing contractors?

Bennett: On almost every commercial roof where roof penetrations are required we’ll have a roofer come in and flash the penetrations and sometimes install a sleeve to get our conduit off the roof and into the building.commercial solar array

The other common reason for coordinating with a roofer is because the roof may be under warranty. Sometimes the warranty is held by the roof manufacturer, so we receive a list of roofers who can do the inspection. Usually there’s an inspection that needs to happen before and after the solar installation. We’re sometimes paying $1,000 to get inspections.

A lot of times we’re not fastening solar panels to flat commercial roofs; we’re installing what’s called a ballasted system where we may need to use an approved pad or put down an additional membrane to protect the roof from the pan that is holding ballast and keeping the array on the roof. Sometimes different roofing manufacturers are picky about what they allow on the roof and different kinds of roofs require different treatment, so it’s important to have a good roofing contractor available.

Roofing: When you hire contractors, what are you looking for?

Bennett: We’re looking for a roofing contractor that does quality work at a fair price because, I’ll be honest, we’ve been overcharged by roofers more than any other subcontractor. We take notes when we work with a roofing contractor: how easy they are to work with, how responsive they are to emails and phone calls, the quality of work and the price. We know roughly what to expect after being in business all these years. If we get a fair quote from a recommended contractor, we’ll often go with them without looking at other bids. We prefer to use a roofer who is familiar with the roof. A good relationship with the customer also is an important consideration.

Roofing: Are there situations in which you defer entirely to the roofing contractor?

Bennett: It’s a little unusual. We just put a system on a slate roof on a million-dollar home. The roof was very steep and we didn’t even want to get on the slate, so we hired the roofer to install the rails and solar panels. We did all the electrical work and procurement. We provided one of our crew leaders to be there the entire time to train the roofing crew and help them because they had no experience with solar. They knew how to get around on a slate roof and mount the solar flashing and they actually installed the whole array. They did it in not much more time than we would’ve done it. We were very impressed with them.

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Next Generation Solar Roofing System

CertainTeed Corp.'s Apollo II next generation solar roofing system

CertainTeed Corp.’s Apollo II next generation solar roofing system

CertainTeed Corp. has introduced its Apollo II next generation solar roofing system featuring integrated photovoltaic (PV) panels that combine greater efficiency and improved aesthetics with easier wiring installation. Featuring 54-watt monocrystalline panels, Apollo II is lightweight, durable, resistant to wind uplift, and can easily be integrated into an existing roof or with the installation of a new roof that combines solar panels and asphalt shingles.

Like its predecessor, Apollo II fully integrates with roofing shingles for a clean, seamless appearance not found with rack-mounted systems. Each slim, 12-pound module features 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells. Its low profile design does not require structural reinforcement or evaluation, and the sleek black frame, cells and backsheet visually blend with surrounding shingles. The enhanced product also features an open space under the modules to allow for easier electrical wiring. New water channels and raised fastener locations further improve roof deck integrity.

The Apollo II system is offered in pre-engineered kits containing all components necessary for installation. Modules are Class A fire rated and meet UL 790 requirements. Apollo II is also rated for wind resistance up to 110 mph and loads up to 250 lbs per square foot. In addition, the product is backed by the industry’s only warranty for both electricity output and installation workmanship. Apollo II qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit and may be eligible for state rebates and incentives. Additional incentives may also be available through local utility providers.

CertainTeed offers a powerful portfolio of photovoltaic roofing systems, including, Solstice rack-mounted, high-performance monocrystalline panels featuring one of the best ratios of energy per area and PowerMax premium class, copper-indium-selenium (CIS) thin film rack mounted panels for residential and commercial applications. Designed to meet the demands of sustainable construction and replacement roofing, these products leverage next generation technology to generate unrivaled performance without compromising aesthetics.

Mount Photovoltaics on Low-slope Roofs

Unirac Roof Mount (RM)

Unirac Roof Mount (RM)

Unirac Inc. has released its Unirac Roof Mount (RM), which replaces RapidRac for mounting photovoltaics on low-slope roofs. Each ballast bay is compact and easy to handle, weighing less than 3 1/2 pounds and allowing for 10-degree tilt. The modular design helps installers navigate modules around HVAC units or other roof obstacles, maximizing power density. The RM supports most framed crystalline modules. In addition, U-Builder, an online tool that allows customers to design and quote a system in seconds, supports the RM.

(855) 387-8450

Are You ‘PV Ready’?

Commercial rooftops are an attractive platform for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity-producing systems. These low-slope roofs offer an economical and sustainable structural foundation for renewable solar energy. As an example, one of the largest roof-mounted PV systems in North Carolina has been online for several months at the Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. vault logistics facility in Thomasville. Almost 7,700 solar panels completely cover the warehouse’s 160,000-square-foot roof and produce enough power (1.8 megawatts) to offset more than 90 percent of the building’s annual energy costs.

Success stories like Old Dominion’s are becoming increasingly common in the sunny Carolinas. However, it is important to remember a roof’s function is, first and foremost, to protect the building’s contents and people from the elements. In this regard, roofing professionals need to anticipate the potential risks associated with the installation of a roof-mounted PV system (array). This sort of due diligence is particularly important when installing PV systems on existing warranted roofs.

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

To help in these industry efforts, members of Waltham, Mass.-based SPRI—the trade association that represents sheet membrane and component suppliers to the commercial roofing industry—have developed “PV Ready” roof assemblies and guidelines designed to provide maximum protection for the roof (and maintain its warranty coverage).

In September, SPRI’s technical committee and board of directors also approved and distributed to its members Technical Bulletin 1-13A, “Summary of SPRI Membrane Manufacturer Photovoltaic (PV) Ready Roof Systems and Services”. The bulletin contains general guidelines from SPRI related to “PV Ready” roof assemblies. This article goes into more depth about issues related to PV installations, particularly on existing warranted roofs.

Ask the Right Questions

The installation of a PV system on an existing warranted roof raises many important questions for the roofing professional and building owner. For example, will the roof accommodate the added weight of the PV array? Logistically speaking, before property owners decide on a solar-power system, they will need to determine whether their roofs are sturdy enough to support
the additional loads put on the existing roof structure by the solar array.

An average solar panel and support system typically add a minimum of 3 to 4 pounds per square foot to the existing roof. It is the responsibility of the roofing professional to ensure this additional weight does not exceed the load limits determined by the building’s designer.

From an economic (life-cycle-cost) point of view, it makes sense the service life of the existing roof membrane will come close to matching the projected service life of the PV system. If not, a complex and costly reroofing project may be required long before the solar panels need to be replaced. In general, the underlying roofing system must provide the same minimum investment horizon—generally at least 25 years—to realize the full potential of the rooftop PV system.

Most PV arrays require penetrating the roof membrane. Even non-rack-type systems may include electrical conduits, wiring and other components that may need to be flashed in a professional manner. It is essential the responsibility for this flashing work rests with the roofing contractor.

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CertainTeed Provides Solar Training, Partners with Angie’s List

Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed Corp. has partnered with Penn State University, College Station, Pa., in the construction of a solar power training facility. The project is the second phase of the groundbreaking, new smart-energy campus GridSTAR Center at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Functionally designed with input from CertainTeed, the building will showcase the manufacturer’s line of solar roofing products and provide an outlet for training students and building professionals in contemporary solar roofing system installation.

The steep-slope portion of the facility’s roof will feature a 2-kilowatt Apollo II solar roofing system integrated among Landmark Solaris Gold premium designer shingles in Max Def Weathered Wood and a 2-kilowatt Solstice rack-mounted solar roofing system. The GridSTAR Center also features a net-zero-energy demonstration home with Landmark Solaris shingles and a host of other exterior and interior CertainTeed building products.

In other news, CertainTeed is strengthening its roofing contractors’ reputation management and promotion strategies through a partnership with Angie’s List. By teaming up with the online national consumer review service, CertainTeed is helping local contractors build awareness for their services by providing access to exclusive advertising discounts, local business growth marketing opportunities and support.

“ShingleMaster contractors have proven their ability to provide knowledgeable installation of our roofing products to homeowners,” says Jay Butch, director of contractor programs and promotions for CertainTeed Roofing. “To show our gratitude for playing such an important role in our continued success, the partnership with Angie’s List will help to further manage, strengthen and leverage their local reputations and grow their businesses.”

As part of the program, contractors will be assigned a dedicated team at Angie’s List that is available to answer questions and provide updates about program details, account status, local market metrics, best practices and local advertising opportunities. Angie’s List helps homeowners hire local service professionals in more than 550 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. In 2012, nearly 500,000 Angie’s List members searched the website to hire a highly rated roofing professional.

Inovateus Solar Installs Solar-power System on McElroy Metal’s Manufacturing Facility

South Bend, Ind.-based Inovateus Solar LLC, a worldwide installer of commercial and industrial solar-power systems, has embarked on a rooftop solar array project on Bossier City, La.-based McElroy Metal’s Peachtree City, Ga., manufacturing location. The project is part of the Medium Scale Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative Program. Construction on the facility’s roof and a parking lot canopy began Sept. 29. The 500 kW array is scheduled to be commissioned before Christmas.

“It is the largest solar installation for a metal roofing manufacturer,” states Inovateus Solar Project Manager Peter Rienks. “McElroy is really stepping up to the plate to incorporate renewables into their product offering.”

McElroy has 12 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. Through its partnership with Inovateus Solar, McElroy now manufactures ready-to-install solar panels fully integrated into steel-panel systems and offers solar kits with the company’s metal roofs.

McElroy Metal President Ian McElroy says: “We are very excited to be installing a half-megawatt photovoltaic system on our Peachtree City facility. The existing metal roof is over 34 years old and consists of galvanized R panel. We will be retrofitting with our 238T symmetrical standing-seam system, which provides an excellent metal-over-metal reroof solution. And, since we were installing a new roof, we decided to explore adding solar. With the help of our solar partner, Inovateus Solar, we were able to put together a plan that made financial sense.”