Powering Up in the Midwest

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend an interesting panel presentation in Indianapolis on “Solar Power in the Midwest.” Other participants included representatives from, the U.S. General Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Indianapolis Power & Light, SunPower Corp., the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

Rooftop Energy

The project that brought us all together was the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center, a 1.6-million square foot building undergoing renovation in nearby Lawrence, Indiana. With 6,152 photovoltaic panels now generating nearly two megawatts of renewable energy, the Bean Center features the largest rooftop array in the Midwest. The power generated by the panels offsets seven percent of the building’s electricity use.

A part of the rooftop installation operates as an innovative solar test lab, reflecting a partnership between GSA and the DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories. The lab is monitoring solar technologies and their performance in the challenging Midwestern climate. Lab results will be assessed and shared in order to support the growth of the solar industry.

Collaboration and Partnership

The Bean Center is one of the largest projects I’ve ever worked on. It has been a challenging renovation, aided by the innovative use of laser scan technology and a 3-D BIM model that has facilitated both the building upgrades and our focus on comprehensive energy modeling. But for me, it’s the collaboration and partnerships behind this project that really stand out. The solar installation has involved many different agencies and companies working together, including GSA, Sandia, and Indianapolis Power & Light. As a result, we are generating more than power at the Bean Center—we’re creating groundbreaking research that will inform future projects and solar technologies.

For more information on the Bean Center, read Dewberry’s Dimensions article, Sustainable Retrofits on the Rise.

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