WASHINGTON — With projected savings in some cases as high as $1.5 million, a new report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) illustrates the benefits achieved by utilizing solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems for U.S. businesses and commercial buildings.

The first-of-its-kind report, which focuses on both energy and cost savings, was conducted with the help of the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance, a division of SEIA. The report says that there are now more than 1,700 companies nationwide that specialize in solar heating and cooling technologies.

“From hotels to grocery stores to breweries, solar heating and cooling technology is proven to lower energy use and save money for America’s commercial buildings,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “And not only can SHC improve businesses’ bottom lines, solar is a zero-emission, renewable resource that helps protect our environment. This important new study should be taken as a handbook for any commercial building owner or business with significant heating, cooling, or hot water use.”

The report, “Saving Money and Energy: Solar Heating & Cooling Is Paying Big Dividends for U.S. Businesses,” details dozens of examples of SHC applications, including a system installed last year on the Duffield Regional Jail in Duffield, Virginia, that is expected to save the county an estimated $1.5 million over the life of the project. In another example, the owner of the NOMAD Aquatic Center in Huntersville, North Carolina, told researchers his bills had reached $12,000 a month before the installation of 269 solar collectors — the estimated return on investment (ROI) for that SHC system is just one year. At the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, water in guest rooms is heated with an SHC system as part of the hotel’s environmental initiatives. The 40-collector system offsets an estimated 40 metric tons of carbon emissions each year and has a four-year estimated ROI.

Given that HVAC systems are major energy users — representing an estimated 35 percent of energy usage in commercial buildings — the potential benefits of SHC technology, both in terms of dollars saved and carbon emissions reduced, are substantial. The Solar Heating and Cooling Roadmap, released last year, found that investment in SHC could create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs through the installation of 100 million new SHC solar panels nationwide.

“Today, approximately 44 percent of all American energy consumption nationwide is attributable to heating and cooling,” said Mike Healy, SHC Alliance chairman. “According to projections by BEAM Engineering, ramping up the installation of SHC systems across America would allow the U.S. to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through clean, affordable solar energy. SHC is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).”

For more information, visit www.seia.org.

Publication date: 10/13/2014

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