Solar Takes On A Whole New Look

Rising utility costs, and the growing sophistication of solar technology – coupled with the continued availability of government-assisted financing – are fueling increased interest in alternative energy options among residential, commercial, and educational end-users. But solar now has yet another boost, as a growing number of roofing and mechanical contractors are set to install roof panels that blend in with traditional roof aesthetics.

Certainteed Apollo II

CertainTeed’s Apollo II has been touted as a “next generation” solar roofing system, both for its aesthetics and its functionality. Its integrated photovoltaic panels combine greater efficiency and easier overall installation than earlier generations of PV systems. Featuring 54-watt monocrystalline panels, Apollo II (photo, above) is lightweight, durable, resistant to wind uplift, and can easily be integrated into either an existing roof or installed as part of a new roof that combines solar panels and conventional shingles.

Better yet, the system is designed to fit in with some familiar construction protocols – and it can be installed by the many of nation’s existing pool of construction and roofing professionals. “The solar industry is growing at a rapid pace, and Apollo II is the answer building professionals are looking for to meet increasing homeowner demand for an affordable, aesthetically-pleasing sustainable energy solution,” says Mark Stancroff, director of CertainTeed Solar. “The enhanced system also comes with the unparalleled training and service customers have come to expect from our solar experts, meaning less time on site with faster installation and fewer callbacks.”

Like its predecessor product line, Apollo II fully integrates with roofing shingles for a clean, seamless appearance not found with most rack-mounted systems. Each slim, 12-pound module features 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells.
The system’s redesign allows for easy retrofit to existing homes without the need for engineering adjustments. Its low profile design does not require structural reinforcement or evaluation, and the sleek black frame, cells, and backsheet visually blend with surrounding shingles. The enhanced product also features sufficient open space under the modules to allow for easier electrical wiring. New water channels and raised fastener locations further improve roof deck integrity.

The Apollo II system is offered in pre-engineered kits containing all components necessary for installation. Modules are Class A fire rated and meet UL 790 requirements. Apollo II is also rated for wind resistance up to 110 mph and loads up to 250 lbs per square foot.

Making PV Accessible

Certainteed is supporting the product with a full array of training opportunities for roofing professionals. That nationwide network of installers is likely to help expand the use of solar PV in the North American housing inventory. When meeting with clients, a trained roofing contractor can discuss PV installation and maintenance as one additional service from their ordinary business portfolio. As a result, end-users will likely be introduced to an array of solar options without having to search out an alternative energy specialist.

Apollo II qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit and may be eligible for state rebates and other incentives listed at Additional incentives may also be available through local utility providers. In addition, the product is backed by the industry’s only warranty for both electricity output and installation workmanship.

CertainTeed supports other photovoltaic roofing systems as well. That product mix includes the Solstice rack-mounted, high-performance monocrystalline panels featuring a high energy per area ratio; and PowerMax premium class, copper-indium-selenium (CIS) thin film rack mounted panels for residential and commercial applications. Each of these products is designed to supply up-to-date solar technology without compromising a structure’s aesthetics.

800-233-8990 •

Labor-Saving Innovation
For Geothermal Installers

Mark Doll makes a good living doing one thing very well – designing and installing ground source heating and cooling systems with a professional touch. He has performed many installations: retrofit, new construction, small systems as well as large.

His company recently completed a 4 ton heating & cooling installation on a new home in Port Washington, Wis. Rather than weld together a loop manifold and burying it in the yard as he traditionally would do, he incorporated a Caleffi GeoCal™ geothermal manifold and located it in the basement mechanical room.

With the geo system fired up and performing smoothly, Mark gave an assessment of his first-time use of this new manifold approach. Thanks to the manifold, Mark says, “I can bring all earth loop piping into one common station and avoid having to fusion weld.” While there is the added material cost of the manifold, it is largely offset by reduced labor costs. “I didn’t have to deploy welding equipment to the site either,” he added.

Having only constructed geothermal manifolds via welding in the past, Mark was more than a little curious about how to securely connect up the loops using Caleffi’s mechanical fittings. “The GeoGrip connections were easy to connect to my PE pipe, too. And on both our air and fluid pressure tests, the fittings held secure with no decay.”

On the manifold, Mark utilized Caleffi’s optional QuickSetter™ balancing valves. “Getting proper flow in all loops is important for efficiency, but not so easy to accomplish with buried manifolds,” he noted. “The QuickSetters allowed me to dial in the 3 gpm I wanted on each loop with no guessing, and it brings the flow control into the house. They even come with insulation shells that fit like a glove.”

Another advantage he found to using the manifolds is that each loop can be isolated. “Purging and filling required much less pumping effort because I could do one loop at a time,” Mark observed. “With a welded manifold, the entire loop field is purged which requires a big pump.”

Is Mark likely to use the manifold system again? “With this first one up and running, and the customer satisfied, I’ll be evaluating how it holds up” he stated. “The GeoCal is a breeze to install and gives a lot of flexibility as the automatic air vents and supply and return temperature gauges are a couple of added plusses. Caleffi makes good stuff and as the weeks go by, I’m confident I’ll be looking to use the GeoCal again”. • 414-238-2360


Renewables Rule In Kingdom City

It only makes sense; if you live and work in a region that’s blessed with lots of sunshine, you’ll find plenty of people who want to take advantage of all that ‘free’ energy. Lately, that’s been the story for Brian Schlattman of Mechanical Systems, Inc. in central Missouri.

Brian cites a long history in renewables, helping clients with everything from biomass and wood boilers to solar thermal and solar PV on a remarkable mix of projects. Lately, solar thermal has been a big part of his routine.

In Columbia, Missouri, Brian worked with Central Missouri Community Action, which helps disadvantaged people get grants for – among other things – energy-saving solar thermal systems for their homes. Other projects have been more cutting edge, including a farm at nearby Lincoln University’s Agriculture School which now employs solar thermal on a greenhouse project that produces worm castings in composted leftovers from the school’s cafeteria.

There have also been some big commercial projects, including a nearby Best Western and a Days Inn hotel. “The Days Inn went for solar thermal and solar PV, and they put a billboard on the highway telling people they expect to see 43% in energy savings this year,” he said.

Most of that work was done using Shüco equipment, but those products have lately become hard to get. That’s led Brian to search for a new supplier, and he’s in the process of switching to Caleffi. “I like what I see from them,” he tells us. “I really like their products, and they’re really good at training. I took a course in water quality just a week ago to help keep my license up to date.”

The Kingdom City based company has provided sustainable energy resources to nearby Jefferson City, Columbia, and Lake of the Ozarks, but also as far away as St. Louis.



Earth Advantage Institute Offers First Energy Model-Based Net Zero & Net Zero Ready Certification in the U.S.

Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit focused on designing tools for better buildings, has launched the first energy model-based net zero and net zero ready green home certifications in the nation.

Earth Advantage Institute’s Home Certification division has launched the new program to encourage the rise of zero energy homes. A net-zero or zero energy home is defined as one that generates as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

The EA Net Zero certification is designed to create a standard for homes that wish to achieve a higher standard of energy performance while still maintaining a sustainable approach to building. The EA Net Zero Ready certification is similar, but allows a builder to enter the net zero market at a lower cost. The home is “ready” for adding the actual physical renewable systems (like solar panels) at a later date and built to the same rigorous performance specifications of a net-zero certified home.

The EA Net Zero and Net Zero Ready certifications focus on five key components: efficient use of space, a high-performance shell, right-sized mechanical systems, high efficiency appliances and lighting as well as renewable systems.

The foundation for the certifications is Earth Advantage Institute’s Platinum certification, with the use of up front energy modeling to verify energy consumption predictions. Ryan Shanahan, green building consultant for Earth Advantage and point person for the Net Zero program stated, “At Earth Advantage we believe in providing a full suite of certifications to our builders. The EA Net Zero and Net Zero Ready certifications are now available for those builders and homeowners who want to get ahead of the next wave in sustainable building.”

As an indication of their confidence in the program’s methodology all EA Net Zero certified homes come with EAI’s three year Energy Bill Guarantee as well as a custom bamboo plaque. • 503-968-7160



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