New Roofs Must Withstand Solar Arrays
As part of its re-roofing projects, the district also is installing solar arrays.
"Whenever we do a new solar installation, we have to make sure that the roof is new," Hall says. "Any of our new solar systems we have installed, there's a new roof underneath it."
Adds Muir: "Because we're going all-in on solar, we need a roof that's going to be able to hold those panels up for a long time."
Solar became a focus for the district about three years ago for several reasons. First, Scottsdale is in the "Persian Gulf of sunshine," as Peterson says, meaning it offers ample opportunities for solar-power generation. Second, with the green-technology sector flourishing, the district realized this situation might spark interest among its students in careers related to renewable energy and sustainability. Third, the district entered into performance contracts for the solar installations, which help fund these projects.
"Once we identified what roofs needed to be repaired, we searched for funding," Muir says. "With solar, we were able to put this into performance contracting."
Roofs with solar installations do require additional maintenance, particularly to account for the debris the arrays capture over time.
"The biggest thing is making sure you can get in and around the array for maintenance," Hall says. "Whether it's a ballast system or it's enclosed, the maintenance guy needs to be able to get in and around the solar panels to clean the debris around it."
About 30 school buildings feature solar arrays, either thin-film technology or panels, Peterson says, and the district will consider solar for future re-roofing projects. The solar installations generate about 3.6 megawatts of power. As part of its solar-services agreement with the system's vendor, district facilities can use the energy the systems produce, while the vendor installs, monitors, and maintains the equipment.
The fact that Peterson and his team are even talking about solar arrays speaks to the progress they have made. It was only three years ago that the newspaper headline called attention to the district's failing roofs. Now, the story has changed dramatically. Peterson is looking to November 2013, when he hopes voters will pass the next bond for roofing projects and other initiatives.
"So the voters don't say, ‘Gosh, all you do is come with your hand out,' we need to educate them, too," Peterson says. "We're starting to plant those seeds now, knowing that in November 2013, we need them to pass a bond to take care of the next group of roofs that, in the next couple of years, are going to need complete replacement."
Successful projects in the last few years have proven the district is a trusted steward of taxpayer dollars. Having success stories to share while building support for a bond can only help in generating funds. The district has taken great strides in repairing and replacing failing roofs, but the changes resulting from the department's culture shift will have an effect for years to come.
Says Peterson: "I think the first thing on the horizon is to prioritize the problems that we have, because we still do have some problems. Then we have to do a replacement plan. Roofs continue to age, so at some point, you have to say, ‘You cannot keep putting Band-Aids on this thing. It has to be replaced.'"