April 2014

Rising from the ashes

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Unique Concepts Inc. installs an integrated solar roof system on St. Bartholomew's Chapel

by Krista Reisdorf

Photos courtesy of Unique Concepts Inc., San Diego

The new integrated solar roof system on St. Bartholomew's Chapel, Valley Center, Calif.

In 2007, the Poomacha wildfire ripped through about 50,000 acres in California. It burned 84 percent of the Rincon Reservation's acreage and destroyed 65 buildings on the reservation, including the historic St. Bartholomew's Chapel in Valley Center, Calif. The bell tower was the only part of the chapel that survived.

The chapel recently was rebuilt, employing some new environmentally friendly innovations. The new 3,356-square-foot chapel has twice the capacity of the original and includes walls constructed using an energy-efficient rammed-earth technique—combining the reservation's soil with cement—and an altar decorated with an oak tree from the lands of a nearby tribe.

Additionally, solar panels were installed on the chapel's roof. Unique Concepts Inc., San Diego, was chosen to install the building's framing, drywall and stucco, as well as a metal roof system and 5.7-kilowatt solar panels.


The project was a new experience for Unique Concepts.

"Our business expertise is installing metal roof systems, and this was our first integrated solar roof," says Robert Ferguson, president of Unique Concepts. "Adding solar panels to this project was extremely easy. The installation was simple with pre-fabricated metal panels with solar modules typically being delivered on-site, and in the case of a larger project like this where metal roof panels are roll-formed on-site, the solar panels were applied to the standing-seam metal roof system with little additional effort."

The company installed DensDeck,® high-temp peel-and-stick underlayment where PV panels occur and a Custom-Bilt Metals TITAN® CB-150 standing-seam metal roof system with FusionSolar™ solar panels, which are adhered directly to the standing-seam panels, was used. The non-PV metal roof panels were rolled on-site because they were more than 44 feet long.

Photos courtesy of Unique Concepts Inc., San Diego

The roof system's non-photovoltaic metal roof panels were rolled on-site because they were more than 44 feet long.

"For solar panel cabling, we built custom cable trays and used S-5 clamps to hold it to the roof," Ferguson says.

The project's electrical aspect went smoothly, Ferguson says.

"The wiring portion was a breeze for our electrical contractor," he says. "And for our roofing team, which completed wiring on the roof, there only was a single roof penetration that easily was flashed with a pipe flashing boot—it was almost as simple as hooking up a stereo.

"Specifications, drawings and hardware are clear so any electrical contractor can make the simple connections to the main electrical service; there is no need for specialized solar expertise from the electrician," he continues.


Ferguson says the project, as well as its energy-efficient aspects, was satisfying.

"The finished look was rewarding," he says. "And everyone was amazed to just flip a switch and immediately see the system working and the meter running backward."

Krista Reisdorf is Professional Roofing's director of online communications.

Project name: St. Bartholomew's Chapel
Project location: Valley Center, Calif.
Project duration: December 2009
Roof system type: Standing-seam metal and solar panels
Roofing contractor: Unique Concepts Inc., San Diego
Roofing manufacturer: Custom-Bilt Metals, Chino, Calif.


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