UCAR installs custom LSX “sunglasses”

For over 50 years, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has been involved in the continuous research of Earth system science, the science of the atmosphere and its interaction with the oceans, land and Sun. The installation of a solar array on one of its buildings is one of many steps the organization has taken to reduce its environmental impact.

One of UCAR’s facility buildings has a unique, parabolic layout. The inside of the curve faces both west and south, exposing to the building to a significant amount of sun. The radius of the inside of the curve combined with the anti-reflective coating on the windows created an unexpected concentrating solar collector producing irradiance levels of up to 6500kW/m2. At times, the heat became so intense at the apex of the curve that it was damaging plastic components on cars parked in front of the building. After considering a number of solutions, UCAR and Lumos landed on a custom awning design that would break up the concentrating effect, provide shade and produce renewable energy for the facility all at the same time.

In order to match the unique architecture of the building, Lumos designed a complimentary solar array awning structure composed of LSX frameless solar panels. The low profile of the panels resulted in an aesthetically pleasing design while the panels’ clear backsheet allows ambient light to filter through, so the offices are able to retain an open feeling. Independent Power Systems was brought in to install the unique solar awning array that was completed in the final quarter of 2014.

Project Spotlight Specs:

  • Location: Boulder, CO
  • Modules: (180) LSX 250 clear backsheet
  • Racking: LSX Rail and custom awning array