Solar Canopy

Integrating solar panels on New York City’s building stock is harder than it looks. 

The challenges range from fire code regulations to limits on rooftop obstructions to wind load requirements—all of which pose significant barriers for installing cost-effective solar panels across the five boroughs. In collaboration with Brooklyn SolarWorks, we created a new system specifically designed to tackle these problems: the solar canopy.

Client

Brooklyn SolarWorks

Completion

2016

Photography

Marvel Vision, courtesy of Brooklyn SolarWorks

Collaborator

Laufs Engineering Design

Combining our expertise in architecture, engineering and fabrication, the canopy’s design factors in a wide range of external variables like adjacent structures, foliage, roof penetrations, roof access and maximum wind and snow loads. The final product is a modular rooftop structure with PV solar panels affixed to a lightweight, adjustable aluminum frame. Created as a prefabrication model, the canopy is easily replicated and customized according to roof size, structure and the particular solar capacities of the site.

Compared to surface panels, the canopy expands a rooftop solar system by up to 200 percent. And so far, the product uptake has been impressive: over 35 have been installed across Brooklyn and Queens.

With the capacity to power entire buildings and dramatically reduce utility costs, this project is rooted in urban innovation, with the potential to transform solar for residents in New York, as well as other cities nationwide.