Topeka Zoo 13.4 kW SunPower Solar PV Awning – Topeka, Kansas
This Solar PV Awning at the Topeka Zoo in Topeka, Kansas consists of 9 327W SunPower Solar Modules and was designed and installed by Good Energy Solutions in 2014. Solar Awnings are a great solution if the roof space is not optimal and adds the benefit of shelter next to the building as well as shade that reduces cooling costs for the building in the summer.
The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center has always been focused on wildlife conservation and education. Naturally, the zoo’s focus on conservation has included hands-on efforts by employees as well as support for other animal friendly organizations around country and globe. However, conservation efforts by the zoo do not stop at direct aid to animals. The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center actively tries to reduce their carbon footprint though efficiency upgrades in their facilities via the “Green Practices” program.
The “Green Practices” program has been responsible for a variety of upgrades to the facilities including installation of hand dryers in the restrooms to reduce paper waste and the addition of recycling stations around the zoo to reduce the amount of waste sent to local landfills.
Size of System: 13.407kW
Installation Type: 3 Awnings
Number of Panels: 41 (327W)
Actual Annual Output: 17,363kWh
A Solution Worth Showcasing
In 2014, the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center decided to take their Green Practices to the next level by applying for a renewable energy grant from the local utility. The zoo wanted to show off their commitment to conservation and invest in a solution that would last. Enter Good Energy Solutions, Inc and SunPower with custom design and installation of a high efficiency solar system. Good Energy Solutions, Inc was able to mount a few modules on solar awnings to make the zoo’s investment visible. SunPower’s clean module design added further aesthetic value.
Making the Best Investment
As many nonprofits can relate, deciding how to spend capital can be a very tough decision. When the Topeka Zoo got word that they received grant funding from the local utiltiy for a solar project, the next question quickly became “how do we make this money go the furthest”?
Good Energy Solutions, Inc proposed SunPower modules for three main reasons: they last a long time, they are dense and therefore able to leave space for future expansion, and the Maxeon cell provides a clean look worth displaying at the rain forest building.
A Living Classroom
The aim of the solar grant was to engage the public and educate students. The awnings accomplished the public education facet of the grant. To accomplish the education facet, Good Energy Solutions, Inc and the Friends of the Zoo installed an educational exhibit to show how solar modules work and display solar production in real time.
This exhibit reaches nearly 200,000 visitors every year, many of whom are the youngsters who may only be seeing solar for the first time. Now they can go home knowing that clean and renewable energy is here, and that it is good.
“We believe what we do changes the world. Every choice we make save the planet.”
— Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center.