Solar Panel Installation at Spiral James Burn

by: Jen Clark

A solar-powered renewable energy management solution at Spiral James Burn is expected to help lower building operating costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint at its corporate headquarters in Totowa, NJ.

The project – an installation of about 3,500 solar panels – is the largest roof-mounted installation in northern New Jersey and will produce approximately one million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, according an article on the company’s website. “The new 825 – kW DC solar power system will offset a total of 15,375 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime,” the story said. “The environmental benefits of such a large installation are equivalent to planting more than four million trees and eliminating over 40 million automobile driving miles.”

Richard Christmas, director of operations for Spiral James Burn, further explained the company’s decision to invest in solar energy:

Why did you add solar panels to your building?
Two reasons: Environmental responsibility and lower operational cost.

What company completed the installation, and how long did it take?
Amberjack Solar Energy, Oakland, NJ, (www.amberjacksolar.com) installed the panels. The installation, start to finish, took five to six months.

Have you realized any energy savings in the nine months since the solar panels were installed?
The installation is new, but it looks like we will be realizing the expected cost savings by producing the maximum allowed solar energy production of around 80 percent.

You were expecting to lower building operating costs. Have you been able to do that?
We don’t have empirical data to support this yet, but since nearly our entire roof surface area is covered with the solar energy panels there seems to be less heat energy travelling into the building structure. This has been a relatively hot summer, but the non-insulated warehouse area of the building has been noticeably cooler temperature-wise. If this is true, then the A/C units for our office space are likely using less energy as well.

Was this part of an overall effort to be more aware of the company’s impact on the environment?
Yes. We had been reviewing this, along with many other energy reduction options, and we just found the right scenario to move forward. We also have realized significant savings and help for the environment by implementing nine different recycling programs at the present time.

Have you undertaken any other environmentally-friendly efforts? Did this spur any other projects?
At the same time, we have been working on other smaller “energy reduction” initiatives throughout the facility, including energy efficient bulbs, proximity motion sensors for select fixtures and even rewiring some fixtures to utilize less bulbs.

What advice do you have for other companies who might be considering a project like this?
Do your homework. Research everything: vendors; power authorities; incentives from local, state and federal governments and tax benefits. Conduct feasibility studies and, of course, consult your accounting staff!