Boulder Commons

Achieving Net-Zero Energy

IPS was selected to design and install a unique 575 kW solar power system on the roof and east façade of the new Boulder Commons commercial development in Boulder, Colorado. 

Project Highlights

Location: Boulder, Colorado

System Size: 575 kW

Est. CO2 Offset: 1,310,693 lbs/yr

Project Type: Commercial Solar

Client: Morgan Creek Ventures

Morgan Creek Ventures Logo
Boulder Commons in Boulder, Colorado

Solar power at Boulder Commons

IPS was selected to design and install a 575 kW commercial solar power system for the largest multi-tenant net-zero energy project at a commercially-leased building in the United States. The Boulder Commons solar system consists of SunPower solar panels, which are integrated into every available square foot of the roofs and east-facing, vertical façades. In total, there are 1,072 high-efficiency panels on the roofs and 655 on the east façade of the south building. Because all 100,000 square feet of the commercial multi-tenant Boulder Commons is committed to the goal of net-zero energy, innovative design was the key to success for this project.

Boulder Commons is a new commercial development adjacent to Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. By installing SPR360 solar panels, which boast the highest efficiency commercially available, Boulder Commons is able to achieve its net-zero energy goal. A first-of-its-kind challenge, IPS was tasked with engineering a means of installing the solar panels vertically on the east wall to maximize energy production and meet the net-zero goals of the client. The challenge there was to not only attach the panels securely but to create a complete wall surface that was both aesthetic and functional as the cladding of the wall. The end result came out beautifully and exceeded expectations.

IPS took the unconventional approach of mounting the solar modules on the roof facing east and west versus the traditional south-facing orientation. The approach of building south-facing rows with separations between them prevents one row from shading the row behind it, but the spacing creates unused roof area. A ‘dual-tilt’ east and west orientation allowed IPS to fit 35% more modules on the roof than if it were a south-facing array, which results in approximately 20% more in total energy production for the available space.

Developed and owned by Morgan Creek Ventures, the project set a replicable example for the business case of net-zero energy and demonstrated the lucrative returns of installing solar. Because Morgan Creek Ventures chose to purchase the solar panels, the developer expects to see a 6.2 percent return from the solar installation.

Read more about this project in Rocky Mountain Institute’s Boulder Commons case study.

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"Boulder Commons took an innovative approach to solar PV design. Since Boulder Commons is a four- story building in a cold climate, it was not able to achieve NZE through rooftop solar PV alone. Rather than pursue deeper energy efficiency measures, it was more cost-effective to install 205 kW of solar PV on the southeast faCade, which had the additional benefit of offsetting exterior cladding costs."

Rocky Mountain Institute

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