Higher ed choices: Ground-mount versus rooftop
Deciding where to install a solar array is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make.
Respond yes or no to the following questions as a first step in determining which type of installation makes more sense for your campus.
Are there obstructions on the roof—such as skylights, HVAC systems or other equipment—that would make it difficult to install solar panels?
If the roof has a pitch, does it face a direction other than south/southwest/southeast?
Is there significant shading (from trees or other buildings) on the rooftop?
Does the roof have a steep pitch?
Is the roof nearing the end of its life and in need of replacement?
The higher the number of NO responses, the greater the likelihood a rooftop installation will work on campus.
Is the area flat with a limited grade?
Are there access roads leading to the site?
Do local zoning laws permit ground-mount installations?
Is the area sunny with limited shading from trees and other buildings?
Can the panels be installed without impacting wetlands, floodplains, streams, and other bodies of water or natural habitats?
The higher the number of YES responses, the greater the likelihood a ground-mount installation will work on campus.
Sources: Elizabeth Bowen, program coordinator, sustainability office, North Carolina State University; U.S. Department of Energy/On-Site Commercial Solar PV Decision Guide; Solar Professional magazine.