Tor Valenza has been a primary solar industry voice for years, and can be found under the @SolarFred handle and UnThink Solar, his marketing services firm. He recently saw fit to write about Spotlight Solar’s approach to making solar visible…and beautiful (OK, that word we added). As he says, he doesn’t normally write about products.

But I’m making the exception this week for Spotlight Solar. Spotlight’s not a typical BIPV solution, but a working aesthetic solar structure that’s also a green PR solution that calls attention to hidden solar.

We really appreciate Tor’s analysis, partially because he’s an influential solar advocate, and especially because he’s a marketer. He recognizes the value-add we’re striving to bring to clients and the industry.

their products are meant to be a complementary added value, calling attention to the real solar solution — rooftop or ground-mount panels that are out of site or difficult to see. Alternatively, they could also be calling attention to other invisible sustainability efforts by the building’s architect, such as the St Louis Rams’ green initiatives.

Another example for its use are the many renovated buildings today that have achieved LEED Platinum status, but beyond the press release, a LEED medallion, or perhaps a small lobby display, the general public might walk on by and never realize that there are solar panels on the roof or that the structure was built with ultra high-efficiency windows, reclaimed wood, and 100% LED lighting. From the outside, it looks like a normal renovated building.

With a Spotlight tower, the same building’s visitors and tenants know their building is green from two blocks away. As a result, Spotlight is part art, part landmark, and part green architecture, and of course, all solar.

This will sound a little self-satisfied, but I’m really pumped that Tor gets it. The solar industry is filled with accomplished people who have made essential strides in technology, cost, policy, and financial mechanisms to facilitate investment. It is not, however, filled with investors in marketing – an equally essential element in building a healthy industry. Tor’s is a lonely voice, calling for practical marketing efforts to help more people recognize the appeal of solar energy. Spotlight Solar’s part is to physically make solar more appealing and visible. It is marketing-as-product.