Massive Vet Solar Carport Project, In LA, Of Course

In the city infamous for its traffic and people’s affinity for their cars, as well as its abundant sunshine, it’s only fitting that one company is taking advantage of both—with a solar canopy project at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center. San Francisco-based Build Group along with REC Solar just completed the first phase of their solar support canopy project—putting up 3.72 of the 6.8 megawatts of solar planned for the VA hospital’s carports. Once completed, the solar carport project will be the largest of its kind at a VA hospital campus in the U.S.

To get such dense power, the design upped the per-unit watt of the installation by putting seven 240-watt solar panels on each T-structure, instead of the usual six, Build Group said. To make sure the installation stays put, the structure was built to withstand 85 mph winds. In line with the federal Buy American Recovery Act, only materials made in the U.S. were used on the project.

West Los Angeles VA Solar Carport

image via Build Group

Building such an installation in a high-traffic area took some careful planning and considerations, the developers said. While the installation promises to keep the hot Los Angeles sun directed to clean energy instead of heating up leather seats, no one wants to give up valuable parking spots. In order to keep the parking lot open to hospital staff, patients, and visitors, Build Group carefully orchestrated the project in phases that kept the lot open and safe.

The 6.8-megawatt project is just a piece of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’s (VA) initiative to switch to 15 percent renewable energy by 2013. In addition to the project in West Los Angeles, VA has allocated $56.7 million in contracts to complete solar PV systems at five medical centers in Oklahoma, Texas and California by this summer.

Angeli Duffin is a Midwest transplant currently living in San Francisco, CA. Kicking off her career doing product design and development with Fair Trade artisans around the world, she then moved on to the editorial side, writing for eBay’s Green Team blog and working as a marketing consultant for social and environmentally minded companies

    • With all the open space in major urban locations that we use for parking, this is a great idea.  It’ll protect the vehicles from the sun as well.