Case Study: Solar System for Harka Architecture

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    Overview

    Company: Harka Architecture
    Industry: Sustainable Architecture and Design
    Location: Portland, OR
    Project Partner: Power Northwest
    Installation Date: February, 2023

    Background

    Harka Architecture is a leader in sustainable design and construction, committed to creating environmentally responsible and resource-efficient buildings. To further their mission of sustainability, Harka Architecture decided to install a commercial solar panel system at their headquarters. This decision aligns with their broader goal of constructing Net Zero carbon buildings to combat the significant contribution of the building sector to global carbon emissions.

    Objectives

    • Reduce Carbon Footprint: Decrease reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
    • Energy Cost Savings: Lower electricity bills through self-generated solar power.
    • Sustainable Leadership: Demonstrate commitment to sustainable practices to clients and the community.
    • Energy Independence: Increase energy security and independence.

    Project Scope

    Power Northwest was selected to design and install a customized solar panel system for Harka Architecture. The project included:

    • Site Assessment: Evaluating the building’s roof structure, orientation, and shading.
    • System Design: Customizing a solar panel system tailored to Harka Architecture’s energy needs.
    • Permitting and Approvals: Managing the permitting process with the City of Portland.
    • Installation: Installing the solar panels, inverters, and necessary wiring.
    • Monitoring and Maintenance: Setting up a monitoring system for performance tracking and ongoing maintenance.

    Implementation

    1. Site Assessment and Design

    • Power Northwest conducted a comprehensive assessment of the site to determine the optimal layout for maximum solar exposure.
    • A solar panel system consisting of 21 Jinko Solar JKM375M-6RL3-B panels and 21 IQ7+ microinverters was designed. This system was expected to cover and exceed Harka Architecture’s annual electricity consumption, providing over 100% offset.
    autocad drawing of Harka Architecture solar system

    2. Installation Process

    • The installation team worked over a period of 2 days to mount the panels, install inverters, and connect the system to the building’s electrical grid.
    • Safety measures and quality checks were rigorously followed to ensure a high-standard installation.
    Harka Architecture solar design

    3. System Components

    • Solar Panels: 21 Jinko Solar JKM375M-6RL3-B high-efficiency photovoltaic panels with a 25-year warranty.
    • Inverters: 21 IQ7+ microinverters for converting DC to AC power, ensuring compatibility with the building’s electrical system.
    • Monitoring System: Real-time Enphase monitoring for tracking energy production and system performance.

    Results

    above view of Harka Architecture solar energy system

    Energy Production

    • The system produces an estimated 8,830 kWh of electricity annually, covering and exceeding the building’s energy needs with over 100% offset.

    Cost Savings

    • Harka Architecture expects to save around $1,500 annually on energy bills.
    • 7.6 % Return on investment with anticipated payback in 10 years.

    Environmental Impact

    • Reduction of carbon emissions by 58 tons
    • Equivalent to planting 1,367 trees or not using 124 barrels of oil

    Community and Client Engagement:

    • Enhanced reputation as a sustainability leader in the architecture industry.
    • Increased client interest in incorporating solar solutions into their projects.

    Innovative Renovation Features

    The newly renovated Harka Architecture HQ was originally a 1939 dentist’s office. The team aimed to preserve as much of the original structure as possible while minimizing the building’s embodied energy, operational energy, and toxicity. They utilized reclaimed materials such as concrete, bricks, wood fiber insulation, and hemp wool insulation. Innovative features like a moss wall and truth windows were added to exhibit their forward-thinking concepts.


    “Collaborating with Harka Architecture was a fantastic experience. Their commitment to sustainability made this project a natural fit. We’re excited to see the positive impact this system will have on their energy use and hopefully it’ll provide a great showcase system for many other business owners and homeowners looking to go solar.”
    Garrett Hartwell, Founder, Power Northwest

    Takeaway

    The successful installation of the solar panel system at Harka Architecture by Power Northwest highlights the practical and financial benefits of renewable energy solutions. This project not only advances Harka Architecture’s sustainability goals but also serves as an inspiring model for other businesses to follow. The innovative renovation of their headquarters demonstrates their commitment to reducing the building sector’s carbon footprint and showcases their leadership in sustainable architecture.

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