Solar at the Brooks Family YMCA: An Informed Decision-Making Model; Legislation that Incentivizes: Advocates' Emerging Role in the Transition to Residential Solar Power

Lombardi, Julia, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Bailey, Reid, EN- Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

How may renewables optimally contribute to climate change mitigation? As the effects of climate change continue to cause irreversible damage to the earth’s natural environment and its living things, it is essential to invoke clean energy methods that reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy is a critical tool that must be utilized to combat the reality of a world that is exhausting resources that replenish at a speed slower than which they are consumed, if replenished at all.

In the past decade, adoption of solar energy technology has boomed in the commercial sector. For building owners, solar installation decision-making is complex due to diverse proposals from various companies, hindered by changing government incentives, multiple financial models, the 25-year solar panel life cycle, rapidly evolving technologies, and diverse stakeholder motives. Using the Charlottesville, VA Brooks Family YMCA as a case study, a systems engineering methodology is proposed for navigating the complicated solar landscape. Methodology involves working with key stakeholders to identify current system limitations, establish long term objectives, and interpret metrics to measure progress. Using a financial and electricity generation model, building owners can understand the many constraints, factors, decisions, incentives, and risks associated with commercial solar installation.

In the US, how have advocates of affordable residential solar power promoted public policies to subsidize and accelerate its adoption? Despite the cost advantages of using solar energy with increasing green legislation incentivizing solar, factors such as insufficient education, misconceptions, and poor accessibility measures cause American households to overlook this clean energy option. Affordable housing and environmental advocates unite to promote the common goal of widely implementing affordable solar energy in American homes.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
solar, renewable energy, solar advocates, commercial solar, transition to solar

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Technical Advisor: Reid Bailey

STS Advisor: Peter Norton

Technical Team Members: Morgan Griffin, Lauren Beachy, Hannah Billing, Liam Shields, Jack Dreesen-Higginbotham

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