Under the Sun

There has always been a debate about the merits of solar power. If you’re of a certain age, you might remember President Jimmy Carter installing solar panels on the roof of the White House. If so, you probably also remember President Ronald Reagan later pulling them down. A less well known fact is that President George W. Bush installed a rooftop electric solar system during his administration. The saying goes that there’s nothing new under the sun, but innovations in solar power continue to advance the hopes of a greener energy future.

Reasonable people can debate the benefits, efficiencies, and optimal design and installation methods for solar panels, but there’s one area where all roofing professionals are probably in agreement: if solar panels are on the roof, they are in the roofing contractor’s domain.

The contractors I spoke with for this issue emphasized the importance of making sure the roof system and solar system are compatible. They explained that the solar array needs to be designed and installed with the roof system in mind, and the roof system has to be designed to be integrated with the solar array — and withstand the ongoing maintenance required.

This issue spotlights solar installation on a variety of roofs, including a retrofit application on a mall built in the 1970s in Maine; a state-of-the-art office, warehouse and manufacturing facility in Florida; an equestrian horse barn in British Columbia; an observatory atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea; as well as residential homes in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

“We truly believe the roofer is the most well-equipped to handle rooftop solar,” said Clint Sockman, executive vice president of Advanced Roofing and Advanced Greet Technologies, sister companies that installed the roof and solar array on the new Costex Tractor Parts headquarters in Doral, Florida. The goal of the companies in the Advanced Group is to handle everything on the rooftop.

That is the same business model driving Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling, Inc. The company is making great inroads in residential solar in Pennsylvania by emphasizing the savings on utility bills and great aesthetics roof-integrated residential solar can provide.

Sockman sums it up this way: “Roofing and solar need to go hand in hand. There are a lot of synergies there, but there can also be a lot of trouble if you don’t make them come together. There is a lot of benefit to the customer to having one project team coordinating everything.”

About the Author

Chris King
Chris King is the editor in chief of Roofing magazine. He has covered the construction industry for more than 20 years, previously serving as editor of Roofing Contractor, managing editor of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, and associate editor of Plumbing & Mechanical. He can be reached by email at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

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