DETROIT and CHICAGO — Two companies have announced new solar power products that will allow solar power to be integrated into buildings. Solar panels can be costly, and one way to reduce the expense is to make the panels serve a dual purpose, producing power while also acting as a functional part of the building — an approach called building-integrated photovoltaics.

United Solar Ovonic LLC, of Auburn Hills, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, has combined with GenFlex Roofing Systems to offer a photovoltaic roofing product for flat or low-slope commercial roofs. The product integrates United Solar Ovonic’s flexible photovoltaic (PV) panels and GenFlex’s thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) membrane roofing. According to the two companies, the result is a durable, weather-resistant roofing material that also generates power.

Spire Solar Chicago has introduced a translucent solar module that can be used for skylights or awnings. The solar modules, which feature a clear back sheet to allow light to pass through, recently passed environmental and safety testing by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). The modules will be used for awnings in a new condominium project and for cornices in a new commercial building, both located in Chicago.

For more information on United Solar Ovonic, visit For more information on Spire Solar Chicago, visit

Publication date: 09/01/2003