For Planet Subaru, a solar-powered auto showroom in Hanover, Mass., taking the solar photovoltaic (PV) route was a green-energy choice that has meant another kind of green — as many customers say they do business there because the company shares their green values.
Planet Subaru was one of the commercial sites featured on the annual Green Buildings Open House sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association on Saturday, Oct. 13, which provided an added marketing tool for the dealership on a typically busy sales day.
“They are definitely impressed by it and it doesn’t hurt,” David Gardner a sales associate at Planet Subaru, said of the clientele’s reaction to the solar PV choice.
A $350,000 net investment in the dealership’s rooftop solar array now yields an average annual savings of about $15,000 in energy costs with a $25,000 annual revenue as the PV system cranks out 88,000kWh each year — enough to power eight average homes and almost half the company’s annual electricity needs.
Solar PV provides between 25 and 49 percent of the facility’s electricity needs, depending on weather conditions.
The dealership has 374 solar panels covering its roof, powering the 22,500 square-foot facility, where a computer monitor keeps track of how much energy is being generated and used on a real-time basis. There’s also a geothermal component.
“On the roof river rocks absorb heat during the summer so not a lot of heat comes inside,” Gardner said.
“Other things that are part of the green energy concept of this building is the [fluorescent] lights are all super energy-efficient,” Gardner said. “The large windows were also created by design to allow for passive lighting.”
That is a key consideration for New England winters with shorter daylight hours.
“The idea was to have a lot of windows so during the winter the lighting demand would be less,” he said.
The company is also an active recycler and maintains a 5-acre nature preserve on its property, according to energysage.com. The showroom is the only one connected with Subaru in the world powered by solar PV.
The technology, which is touted as a limited or no-maintenance system, has required no maintenance at Planet Subaru since its June 2010 installation.
The system has also realized $130,000 in incentive funds for the company through tax credits.
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