The Avalon is Boulder, Colorado’s dance venue for contradance, swing, tango, ballroom, salsa, waltz, community dancing, foxtrot, one-step, tea dances, and any other form of dancing.
The client worked with Custom Solar to design and install a 1.3 MW PV system to achieve their goal of going Net-Zero. The result is a highly aesthetic solution that is the largest contiguous monoslope solar carport in the country.
- No visible wiring
- Sealed solar panels as the roof
- Inverters in-canopy
- All conduit routed into piers within vertical columns
- 65,000 square feet of parking, large enough for a fire truck to turn around
There were both technical and administrative challenges. The property is in the County but the parking lot extends into the City Right Of Way as well as being adjacent to a State highway. Attempts to get any variance to building setbacks failed during the first year in permitting.
The carport was custom-designed to the inch on the property footprint, to be able to accommodate enough solar panels to achieve net-zero. We used SunPower 470W panels because of their high power density and reliability. The panels are the roof, so “sealed” panels were utilized along with a waterproofing solution applied to the entire roof between the panel frames.
A complex project
The project was complex, with many tasks both related to, and in addition to the solar installation. The entire property was upgraded to accommodate the solar system with expanded/new parking, storm water quality and retention added. On the electrical side, the utility transformer was upgraded from 300kVA 208V on secondary to 1500kVA at 480V on secondary to handle the midday peak solar capacity. The single service was separated into two services to accommodate Xcel utility incentive application requirements (to maximize allowable production based incentives).
Excerpt of some press coverage for the Avalon Ballroom project.
Largest solar carport in Boulder County under construction at Avalon Ballroom
By SAM LOUNSBERRY | Boulder Daily Camera
October 26, 2018
“The array, once complete, will be the largest carport solar panel canopy in Boulder County, and among the largest in the state, according to Willie Mein, owner of Boulder-based Custom Solar, the company contracted for the project.”
“There is limited real estate in urban environments. Rooftops are a natural, but parking lots, there are multiple benefits when you do a solar carport. You get protection of the cars from sun, rain and snow and protection of the parking lot surface itself.”
Dancers exiting Boulder’s Avalon Ballroom will soon no longer suffer through steaming hot car interiors baked by summer sunshine during their musical workouts, and the shade keeping them cool will be putting the rays absorbed to good use.
Chuck Palmer, owner of the Avalon at 6185 Arapahoe Road, is financing a 65,000-square-foot solar panel canopy that will cover the facility’s parking lot, protecting the vehicles underneath it from the elements while generating renewable energy…
“It’s the right thing to do,” Palmer said.
The array, once complete, will be the largest carport solar panel canopy in Boulder County, and among the largest in the state, according to Willie Mein, owner of Boulder-based Custom Solar, the company contracted for the project.
The finished product will be unique in that a majority of the structure — a portion that will capture 1 megawatt-worth of sunshine — will be on a single plane, whereas most solar carport projects are comprised of a number of panels, separated from parking space to parking space.
But the single-plane method will allow the entire parking lot at the Avalon to be covered, and thus it will provide more protection from weather.
The lot also is being expanded during the project from 155 to 200 parking spaces, Palmer said. Parking lots within city boundaries, as well as landfills, could be the focus of much solar development within urban environments as they offer more space for more panels than a single rooftop, Mein said.
“There is limited real estate in urban environments. Rooftops are a natural, but parking lots, there are multiple benefits when you do a solar carport. You get protection of the cars from sun, rain and snow and protection of the parking lot surface itself,” Mein said.
He also noted the canopy, because it saves cars from heating up in the sunshine, saves the burning of fossil fuels by making it less necessary for drivers to blast the air conditioning upon getting into their vehicles, thus saving fuel.
“For a lot of bus fleets and other car fleets, they could be well served to have solar canopies. There are a lot of ancillary benefits,” Mein said.