My Solar Story: Peter- Portland, OR

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Since 1996 I have owned a two-story mixed-use commercial building. This is my entire real estate “empire,” upon which I have worked extensively to retrofit my building toward net zero. I call her Overlook Corner and she was built in 1910.

Besides the solar, which I will describe in a couple of sentences, I replaced all of the residential windows with thermal insulated windows, added adjustable window shades throughout, and replaced all of the appliances with high Energy Star score ones.

We put on a new 40-year TPO cool roof over added roof insulation, installed 100% LED lighting and ceiling fans in all four apartments, and removed a total of 8 electric resistance heaters and replaced them with natural gas furnaces. Later, we installed an indoor bike rack for eight bikes along with outdoor bike racks for visitors, installed a large green roof over the flat roof portion of the building, along with building a south-facing 250sf 100% passive solar greenhouse on the residential floor, and replacing the existing parking lot with pervious pavers and turning it into a lovely courtyard for outdoor eating and drinking.

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The four small storefronts were rented to local small businesswomen, including a restaurant/grocery, green pet supply store, hair salon and neighborhood indoor-outdoor tavern. I also added awnings on the commercial space and planted street trees that shade the west residential windows from strong summer afternoon sun. I also have been removing all of the old vinyl floors and replacing them with cork and linseed oil based Marmoleum, and installed recyclable carpets throughout.

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As far as solar goes, for her 100th birthday in 2010, I gave Ms. Overlook Corner a 13.3Kw rooftop PV solar system that provides approximately 25% of the building’s electrical demand on an annual basis. Overlook Corner has been in two or three solar tours since then.

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