The falling prices of photovoltaic (PV) panels are resulting in more installations, and one of the largest PV projects in the U.S. is in Kannapolis, N.C., at SHOE SHOW INC.'s distribution center.
Founded in 1960, SHOE SHOW is the largest independent shoe retailer in the country. During the past 50 years, the company has continued to grow with stores named SHOE SHOW,® SHOE DEPT.® and Burlington Shoes. Currently, SHOE SHOW has 1,123 locations in 37 states. The company focuses on providing quality products, service and value. It has maintained its formula for success through technological advances and operating efficiencies, such as a standard shoe design and an efficient distribution center, and has become a pioneer in developing sustainable procedures in-house and in its stores.
On solid footing
Demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability, SHOE SHOW recently installed a 5.2-megawatt (MW) PV array atop its distribution center and corporate office. Before it invested $22 million in PV panels, SHOE SHOW wanted to be sure the existing roof system was sufficient for the PV installation and approached HydroStop, Charleston, S.C., a brand of Quest Construction Products, Charleston, about the project. One-third of the 1 million-square-foot roof system already had PV panels installed over the existing 8-year-old TPO membrane. The remaining two-thirds had a 12-year-old TPO membrane.
Chosen for its sustainability and ease of future recoating around PV panel pedestals, HydroStop's PremiumCoat® System was installed over the existing TPO membrane. Using this system saved an expensive tear-off process and kept about 500,000 square feet of TPO roof membrane out of the local landfill.
A 20-person crew began work on the far edge of the roof system and worked its way toward the scaffolding. This way, installation of the PV panels could begin before the coating system installation was completed. A golf cart and trailer were used to shuttle supplies from one end of the roof to the other. To avoid unintentionally sealing themore than 100 fire hatches shut, blue painter's tape was applied before the product, which resulted in a clean, crisp edge. Workers wore long-sleeved shirts and hats to prevent sun damage, and tents and water stations were set up to provide relief from the sun. SHOE SHOW was so impressed with the PremiumCoat System, it used it on its 87,000-square-foot service center, as well.
Walking the walk
About 18,000 280-watt BP Solar panels installed by SunEnergy1, Mooresville, N.C., then were mounted to the roof using a PanelClaw® Grizzly Bear® racking system, creating a 23-acre array of PV panels.
"It's the largest crystalline panel solar rooftop in the U.S.," says Kenny Habul, chief executive officer of SunEnergy1. "If this power were used only for this building, it would just about equal the building's needs."
SHOE SHOW has a power purchase agreement with Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, N.C., to sell power back on the grid at 7 to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The panels are expected to produce about 7 million kWh in one year, enough to power 650 homes and offset 10,271,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually that would be produced by generating this amount of power in a coal-burning electric plant.
The 5.2-MW system is just one example of the record number of PV installations in the U.S., according to U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report, a collaboration between the Solar Energy Industries Association® and GTM Research, Boston. Nationwide PV panel systems have more than doubled, with more than 1,800 MW of capacity in 2011 compared with 2010.
The green path
According to Habul, growth in PV installations is, in part, because of people like Robert Tucker, SHOE SHOW's president, who want to be environmentally responsible and take advantage of tax incentives. Currently, North Carolina offers a 35 percent tax credit for renewable energy systems constructed on residential and commercial buildings that is set to expire in 2015.
"We're building a couple of new stores, and we're considering putting solar on them, too," Tucker says.
Investing in solar technology took away from his main objective of selling shoes, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. Tucker says installing the solar array ultimately was a business move, but he's glad it will help the environment.
"It's part of business, and if it works, it works," Tucker says. "But now I ask: ‘How much energy is it producing?'"
Work began June 15, 2011, and was completed on time Nov. 10, 2011, without incident.
"SHOE SHOW now has a sustainable roof system on its facility that can be maintained but will never need to be removed," says Kim Bistromowitz, marketing coordinator for Quest Construction Products. "Talk about truly eco-friendly!"
Chrystine Elle Hanus is Professional Roofing's associate editor and NRCA's director of communications.
Project name: SHOE SHOW INC.'s distribution center
Project location: Kannapolis, N.C.
Project duration: June 2011–November 2011
Roof system types: HydroStop PremiumCoat System; Photovoltaic
Roofing contractor: SunEnergy1, Mooresville, N.C.
Product manufacturers: BP Solar, Madrid; HydroStop, Charleston, S.C., a brand of Quest Construction Products, Charleston; PanelClaw, North Andover, Mass.