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Facing Technical/Physical Barriers to Onsite Renewables

Use the resources below to help address technical and physical limitations to implementing onsite renewables in your portfolio. Then check out real-world examples from Better Buildings partners who successfully overcame these barriers and implemented renewable energy projects at their properties.


Tools and Resources


Commercial Rooftop Solar: Racking, Roof Impacts, Compliance, and More
Fact Sheet
This fact sheet addresses common questions that arise when a commercial building owner first considers installing solar photovoltaics (PV), including how the system will be mounted to the roof and its impact on the roof warranty.

Tools for Quantifying and Projecting Benefits of Rooftop Solar
This page collects various tools to help consumers start the process of choosing solar by demonstrating the solar potential of their homes or businesses. Resources include satellite maps, irradiance data, and real-time bids from installers.

7 Steps to Selecting a Solar Provider
Fact Sheet
This fact sheet highlights best practices for selecting a commercial solar provider. Business owners interested in going solar can take the following steps to install an onsite solar PV system.

Best Practices in Commercial and Industrial Solar PV System Installation
This extensive resource shares best practices on solar installations including project design, installation, and operations and maintenance.

Is On-Site Energy Storage Right for You?
A Decision Guide with Basics, Benefits, and Considerations
Guidance Document
This guide is intended for anyone investigating the addition of energy storage to single or multiple commercial buildings.

Where to Begin with Soliciting On-site Solar PV
Templates and Drafted Language
Guidance Document
This website provides templated language and considerations for a solicitation of on-site solar photovoltaic systems. These templates were developed to reduce project development and operational risks while increasing the speed at which projects are completed. While developed with federal solicitations in mind, the language is not stakeholder specific.

DOE’s Phases for Implementing Federal Distributed Energy Projects 
From Project Identification to Federal Reporting
Guidance Document
This website provides a process to efficiently implement distributed energy projects that are technically sound, reduce energy costs, and support organizational needs and missions. While this process is developed specifically for federal agencies, much of the information is applicable or can be extrapolated for other stakeholders.

Wind Turbines in the Built Environment
Risks, Lessons, And Recommended Practices from NREL
This study from the National Renewable Energy Lab is a useful resource for understanding the challenges associated with rooftop wind turbines. 


Solar PV Resilience: Storm Hardening Measures
Costs and Considerations from NREL
For PV systems to act as resilient power providers, they must remain operational. Building a system that is more likely to survive a severe storm event can come at a higher construction cost than those built to less stringent standards. This report investigates 13 storm hardening measures for solar PV systems.

Minimizing Damage to Your Solar PV System Due to Severe Weather
Pre and Post Storm Recovery Guidance from DOE
Guidance Document
This fact sheet provides an overview of recommended design specifications for PV systems that include factors and best practices for system survivability during a severe weather event like a hurricane or tornado.

Best Practices for O&M of Solar PV and Energy Storage Systems
NREL Guidance on Reducing Cost and Improving Effectiveness
This guide provides recommendations that increase the effectiveness of O&M services, reduce O&M costs, improve solar asset transparency for investors and rating agencies, provide an industry framework for quality management, and reduce transaction costs.

Optimizing Solar PV Performance
Tips for Developing an O&M Plan for Longevity
Guidance Document
PV systems have 20- to 30-year lifespans. As they age, their performance can be optimized through conducting proper operations and maintenance. This page covers O&M for PV systems, including tips for developing an O&M plan.

O&M Best Practices for Small-Scale PV Systems
This course focuses on the maintenance of existing PV systems and the ability to increase the predictability of operations, analyzing expected versus actual output, and reducing downtime.

partner solutions and case studies

Better Buildings partners share their proven and replicable renewable energy solutions. Read more about each solution below.

Installation of Rooftop Solar on a 1960s High Rise Building with Full Occupancy
The Tower Companies
Implementation Model
In 2019, The Tower Companies installed the largest rooftop solar PV system on a mid-century multifamily building in Montgomery County, Maryland. The 122-kW installation reduces almost 10% of the overall operating costs at Blair House.

Installing Carport Solar Array: Key Takeaways, Financing, and Project Successes
Hampton Inn & Suites
Case Study
The Hampton Inn & Suites Bakersfield North-Airport in Bakersfield, California reduced electricity costs by installing a carport solar array that produced monthly savings of $8,800.

Parking Ramp Solar Array in Healthcare: Key Takeaways, Financing, and Project Successes
Gundersen Health
Case Study
Gundersen Health System constructed one of the nation's first LEED parking structures for a hospital, complete with PV panels. As of 2014, the system is one of the first to offset 100% of its energy use with renewable energy.

Reducing Energy Costs and Increasing Capacity while Complying with Regulatory Limits in Wastewater Reclamation
Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority
Showcase Project
VVWRA re-commissioned a 1-million-gallon digester by installing a 330,000-gallon Omnivore Co-Digestion and Recuperative Thickener unit. This unit can produce 150% more biogas from the digestion process that can be re-used in-lieu of natural gas in two combined heat and power (CHP) units.

Find Solutions to Other Common Renewable Energy Barriers: