Lone Tree makes it a point to encourage solar energy citywide

July 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Residents in Lone Tree may have noticed more and more solar panels on top of homes and commercial buildings.

While some of it is pure coincidence, it’s also part of the city’s plan.

“It’s just being responsible to the energy concerns of the nation, and we need to be judicious about that,” said Lone Tree Mayor Jim Gunning. “That’s what we’ve been doing — being responsible stewards of our resources.”

One of the larger projects is the new Charles Schwab buildings off Lincoln Avenue,which has LEED Platinum certification, the highest level in the program.

LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a green building certification program through the United States Green Building Council that requires energy conservation of electricity and water.

The Schwab building is also slated to get solar panels.

Solar technology is an allowed use on any buildings under the zoning code, a change made several years ago, according to Lone Tree senior planner Jennifer Drybread.

“Solar energy is supported by the city and through its comprehensive plan, and council wanted to make sure that solar energy could be compatible, aesthetic and safe,” Drybread said.

Over the past five years there have been 76 permits issued for solar in the city, including the new all-solar community, ParkSide, in the burgeoning RidgeGate area. The solar panels on top of those 30 homes come standard and the lease is paid by developer Harvard Communities to installer Solar City.

“We did Energy Star version 3, which is a pretty rigorous energy efficiency standard on those homes,” said John Keith, president of Harvard Communities.

Also under construction are 33 homes in the new NorthSky community, adjacent to ParkSide, which will include solar as an option. Keith said solar panels didn’t seem to be as big a selling point as anticipated. He said two to three of the prospective buyers didn’t want the homes because of the solar panels and fears of having outdated technology they didn’t own on their homes.

But Gunning said the city still encourages solar because officials see it as a value in the market.

There are also solar panels on top of Lone Tree and Eagle Ridge Elementary schools as part of the Douglas County School District’s overall effort to place solar panels on their schools, as well as the Lone Tree Library, the only one in the Douglas County Library system with solar panels.

Libraries acting facility manager Wes Cook said the district got a grant for the panels, and it was able to work through Xcel’s rebate program.

“We kind of look at ourselves as leaders in green energy even though some of our buildings are older,” Cook said. “So this was something we took advantage of.”

Clayton Woullard: 303-954-2953, cwoullard@denverpost.com or twitter.com/yhclayton

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