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Beyond Net Zero Energy

 Last week, four shiny new Spotlight Solar structures were installed at an amazing new school in North Carolina. Sandy Grove Middle School is not just net-zero, it will make more energy than it uses. It has a 590kW solar system, a geothermal system, advanced efficiency, LED lighting throughout, and more. And it has four Spotlight Solar “Lift” structures in vibrant color right in front.


When this school opens in August, it will benefit students, faculty, and parents. And it will lift expectations for the whole community. That’s something we’re proud to be part of. AND, because of its innovation in energy management and the public-private funding method, it will save the taxpayers $35 million.

What is Spotlight’s part? It’s the symbol, the shorthand, the landmark. “Hey, have you seen our new school? I heard it’s really green.” “You mean the one with the cool solar trees out front?” “Yeah, that one!.”

The architect and project developer, Firstfloor is the champion of this project (lead architect Kathryn Lynn, pictured). They, along with our integrator partner, PowerSecure Solar, chose Spotlight Solar to provide the cherry on top of this beyond-net-zero sundae. Not just to look great, but to connect the dots for students. Every morning when the busses unload, kids will walk right under beautiful solar machines, and know they are learning at one of the most future-savvy schools in the country.

Spotlight_Solar_Sandy_Grove-2593    Spotlight_Solar_Sandy_Grove_PowerSecure   

We couldn’t be happier with the result. More pictures here.


We’ll update this story as the building and landscaping reaches completion this summer.

City Hall Spotlights Solar

Last week, a new Spotlight Solar installation was completed at City Hall in Gresham, OR, which borders Portland. The sculptural solar system is set between the city’s modern building and the commuter rail station, so it is very visible.

EveningLight (5)

The City of Gresham has a several clean energy and environmental investments, including about 2000 solar panels at a water treatment plant and (soon) in the city hall parking lot. The Spotlight Solar structures signal the city’s stewardship of the environment and calls every visitor to consider their own choices.  Here is a summary of the city’s green initiatives.


Local news came out to cover the project. An article here.


We partnered closely with REC Solar for the installation of these two sculptural solar systems. The REC team showed amazing attention to detail, the result being a beautiful asset for the city. I joined the team for a couple of days and saw their expertise and crisp execution first hand. It is easy to see why REC has been so successful around the country. Special thanks to Jesse Hayhurst and Bryan Shull. We are grateful and eager to work with REC again. 


We were also thrilled to hear that Spotlight was helpful in winning the larger city project:  a $500K solar parking canopy.  Andy Noel, Director of Business Development at REC, noted,

“Including Spotlight Solar in our proposal was key to winning the project.  The client wanted their solar investment to be visible and attractive, and Spotlight uniquely fit that need.”

The color was chosen by the city to complement the building and its surroundings. I’ll admit that I was concerned about it being a bit standoffish, but having been on site, I think it looks great, especially in sunlight, and echoes the natural palette you see throughout the Portland area.