Mecklenburg County is embarking on an extensive solar water heating project spread across several county-owned buildings in Charlotte. The ambitious plan will place 141 solar thermal collectors on the rooftops of five buildings, including 64 collectors at Mecklenburg County Jail North.
“We’re proud to be taking this step forward in the environmental sustainability of our facilities,” Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts said. “These solar water heaters represent our commitment to shrinking Mecklenburg County’s carbon footprint and using clean energy technology to save our taxpayers on facility operating costs.”
Crews from Southern Energy Management (SEM), a North Carolina-based solar power and energy efficiency company with offices in Charlotte, are installing all of the solar thermal systems.
The solar water heating systems are all going on buildings that use a significant amount of hot water. As a result, the county will avoid using more than 1.5 million cubic feet of natural gas per year. The 141 collectors are spread out as follows:
• 64 at Mecklenburg County Jail North;
• 32 at Metro School, which serves cognitively disabled students;
• 21 at the Medical Examiner's Office;
• 16 at Central Piedmont Community College's Culinary Arts building;
• 8 at Wallace H. Kuralt Centre, which houses the Department of Social Services.
"Putting 64 collectors on one roof is a big deal," SEM co-founder Bob Kingery said. "We've been at this for a long time now, and even some of our larger military installations haven't topped 50 collectors on any single building. It's exciting to see Mecklenburg County taking a bold stance like this."
The Heliodyne solar thermal systems work by using the sun's energy to pre-heat water, lessening the need for traditional electric- or natural gas-heated hot water tanks. SolTherm, an Asheville-based clean energy services company, is providing the rooftop solar collectors.
“We recognize the importance of supporting clean energy – both for the cost and environmental savings, and for the jobs that it brings to the area,” Roberts said.
SEM started installing the systems in February, and is scheduled to be complete by mid-April, which represents a speedy turnaround for large-scale solar thermal installations.
About Southern Energy Management
Southern Energy Management (southern-energy.com) is a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company offering energy efficiency, green building and turn-key solar services for homeowners, builders, companies, government and military clients across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. A certified B Corp, SEM's mission is to have a measurable impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and to build a sustainable triple-bottom-line company. SEM was founded in a living room in Raleigh in 2001, and now employs a team of more than 90 sustainable energy professionals. SEM is consistently recognized as an industry leader both locally and nationally, and is among a small handful of companies in the U.S. to earn the National Energy Star Partner of the Year award five times (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011). SEM also received the 2010 Green Jobs Award from SJF Institute & Green For All and the 2009 City of Raleigh Market Transformation Award.