At AV Architects + Builders, when we work with clients, we combine our experience and vision with their dreams to create Vacation Style Living™ that perfectly suits their needs. When it came time to build a home in Arlington, Virginia, our clients challenged us to take our environmental and low maintenance priorities a step further and go solar.
The Benefits of Installing Solar Power in New Construction
Solar power is becoming increasingly popular with homeowners around the country. In Northern Virginia, the year-round weather provides enough sunlight to take a home with the right solar power system off the public electrical grid. When that grid is powered by energy like coal or nuclear, this means the solar powered home provides a zero-carbon alternative to electricity. For this custom home, we installed a 22.32kw rooftop system, sized to power the 5,500 square foot home by producing 27 megawatt hours.
Not only is solar great for the environment, but, in a large house that gets heating in winter and cooling in summer, it takes an electric bill in the hundreds and reduces it to $10 per month. When installing solar in new construction, the user who is financing the project can roll the cost of solar into the mortgage. This leads to a slight increase in the monthly mortgage payment that still winds up with major net savings since the cost of borrowing is cheap compared to the electric bill reduction. In addition, there are tax incentives that make solar power even more attractive.
How Does Solar Impact a Modern Home?
Our designs are known for clean lines and minimalism, so a busy rooftop with an obvious slant to support the solar structure might be a detraction. One of AV Architect + Builders’ signature design elements is the parapet that we install around the roof edge. It creates the illusion of a flat roof, so that the low slope TPO roof is not apparent from the street view. In the case of this custom home, the parapet had the added benefit of only revealing the solar panel system to a bird’s eye view. This way, we were able to minimize the visual interruption of the flat appearance.
Nova Solar used some unique attachment mechanisms for the flat roof. In this project, they used a ballasted system – panels attached to bases. The bases have a cinder block system that weighs down the panels and keeps them from moving around. This rests atop the roof instead of being attached, and the weight of blocks keeps the system secured. The base has a high, north side of panel with 5-10º of tilt, which creates better energy production throughout the year by capturing more electricity per panel than just lying flat.
Staying True to Vacation Style Living™
This custom home is situated on a typical, tight Arlington lot, but we were still able to fit a spacious house along with a pool, outdoor kitchen, and trampoline area in the backyard. The main floor consists of an in-law/guest suite, the kitchen, great room, dining room, and bi-fold sliding doors and pocket sliding doors that allow the main floor to be completely open and seamlessly transition to the outdoors. The floor to ceiling windows in the owner’s suite is another signature design choice for AV. With smart home features and all-around home speakers as well as many other small details, the home is deceptively simple and incredibly easy to use and maintain. Solar power fits right in because the system lasts for decades, and it requires almost no maintenance, consistent with our standard choices of low-hassle, high-quality exterior building materials.
The choice to opt for solar panels in this home really shows the clients’ goal to build this house for the future. This is their forever home, and it is an investment into the modern and sustainable lifestyle they want to live. To get started on your home that makes you feel like you are on vacation year-round, contact us today.