Here’s a fun distraction as you return from Fourth of July fireworks: Project Sunroof, courtesy of Google and Sierra Club. Plug in your home address (or any address for that matter) and see how much sun your roof gets and whether or not it would be a good fit for installing solar panels.
Tyler Perry’s former digs on the Chattahoochee, for instance, gets about 1,400 hours of usable sunlight per year, with over 2,600 square feet of usable roof space. The Governor’s Mansion gets about 1,500 hours of usable sunlight per year, with just under 8,900 square feet of usable roof space.
Atlanta City Hall, like much of downtown Atlanta, lights up on the map, raking in nearly 1,700 hours of usable sunlight per year across nearly 22,000 square feet of roof space.
While individual citizens and businesses might be interested in adding solar panels to their homes and buildings, there is also a big opportunity for cities and municipalities to make use of their rooftop real estate to both offset how much taxpayers dollars are going toward utility bills every month and how much pollution our governmental buildings produce.
One study, completed last year by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, concluded that, “over 5,000 megawatts (MW) of solar could be inexpensively installed almost immediately on municipal property — more than a quarter of the nationwide total solar capacity…”
There are some barriers to making this happen, as the report points out, including certain tax incentives being unavailable to the public sector, but the report details federal and state level policies changes that can help.
Currently, Georgia’s power comes from a mix of sources, including coal (36 percent), natural gas (32 percent) and nuclear (26 percent). Only six percent of power generation in Georgia is from any renewable energy source. The majority of our power is produced from sources that — from extraction/production to power generation to leftover waste products — are bad news for the environment. Indeed, Georgia ranks 12th in the nation for carbon dioxide emission.
Georgia’s cities and municipalities could lead the way in both cutting costs and reducing energy consumption. Solar panels are just one form of renewable energy worth investigating, but Project Sunroof certainly provides an interesting opportunity to explore the possibilities in your city.
So while you check out the solar potential for your house, business and place of worship, check out the possibility of solar power for your city hall, too.