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.
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.