Renewable Energy: Using Solar Power in Construction
The strong adoption of renewable energy and big push to have as many households and industries move away from fossil fuel is attributed to global warming.
Most of us paid little heed to early warnings about climate change until it became impossible to ignore. Thankfully, some took the issue more seriously and have managed to work on environment-friendly alternatives to lessen the effect of climate change for future generations.
Now, renewable energy, such as solar power, is energizing homes, government buildings, schools, and offices. With the reduced cost of solar materials and monetary convenience from federal and state governments, the adoption rate of such alternatives is at an all-time high.
As a contractor, you might be wondering, what’s in it for us? Will it be a viable alternative source of energy for construction sites? Will clients be willing to spend more for green buildings and renewable energy sources?
Solar power explained
Solar power refers, quite literally, to the power of the sun. It is a type of renewable resource. Renewable resources are resources that are naturally recurring, which means they don’t deplete over time or after repeated use. Fossil fuels are combustible materials originating from the Earth, formed after the decomposition of organic life-forms over the course of centuries. These combustible resources have been known to affect the Earth’s atmosphere due to their natural tendency to emit carbon dioxide.
Renewable resources, such as solar, wind, or hydroelectricity, don’t produce such harmful effects and are viable alternatives for sustainable constructions. Therefore, many countries are pushing towards a renewable future. Germany and Iceland, for example, are one of the top nations that are gunning for a 100% renewable future–and they have made plenty of success already. Solar power is generated by sunlight stored in batteries through the use of Photovoltaic solar panels. This solar energy is then converted into electricity. Street lights are a small example of solar panels making their way into widespread usage.
Pushing solar power in the construction industry
Industries get a bad rep for destroying Mother Nature. They get accused of being the main culprits behind global warming. However, the push for renewable energy is an opportunity for the industry to change this perception. The installation of solar panels has become easier, and construction projects popping up in the Upper Midwest are now utilizing a hybrid system: they use both solar and fossil fuels for power.
Why it makes sense for the construction industry
Solar power has incredible benefits for the construction industry, beginning with a lower cost of operation. Solar equipment was initially expensive, but the call for environment-friendly products has significantly reduced the cost of ownership over the years. Advancements in battery technology mean more energy can be stored in the same, or even smaller-sized, batteries. It is now possible to run entirely off solar power.
Not only is renewable energy environment-friendly, but it can also significantly cut down the cost of owning a home or running a business. Businesses are always looking to cut corners to save as much money as they can. Solar power is a blessing – and it is free and accessible to all. There is only a one-time cost of a large-scale solar setup, but as you continue your operations, it will begin to pay off. Instead of paying for gasoline and coal, construction companies can invest in a one-time setup.
On top of that, they require much less maintenance than fossil fuel-powered generators, adding to the overall decrease in operating costs. Not only that, the switch to renewable energy means that workers won’t be exposed to certain hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) actively promotes and enforces guidelines to ensure the safety of employees. The state-operated department’s job is to educate relevant industries about the best work practices, prevent worksite incidents, and subject employers to scrutiny should they fail to implement safety guidelines.
Using a safer alternative like solar power reduces employees’ exposure to certain hazards, and thus, puts you in the good graces of OSHA. It also gives your sustainable constructions company a positive and modern image in the eyes of the public. However, it is unlikely for certain aspects of construction to switch to solar power.
For example, heavy-duty trucks will continue to rely on gasoline. Adopting a renewable energy strategy can have a widespread effect in building more jobs. In 2015, there were 35,000 new reported jobs in the solar industry. With the adoption of solar power in the construction space for green building, training programs like the Certified Environment Specialist Training are becoming more and more necessary.