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 and wind load requirements—all of which pose significant barriers for implementing solar panels across the five boroughs. In a project for 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, such as 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 increases a rooftop’s capacity for generating solar power by 200 percent. And the product uptake is impressive—nearly one hundred have been installed in the first two years 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.