It’s a regular occurrence for Indoor Biotechnologies to break new ground when it comes to allergens, but when the city of Charlottesville and a consortium of energy and financial providers offered low cost solar power, the company leaped at the chance to install a new 155.250-kW photovoltaic energy system.
And, instead of a groundbreaking to hail the solar installation at the historic Silk Mills building, Indoor Biotechnologies hosted a “Skybreaking” ceremony to celebrate its new ability to harness the sun for electricity.
The event marks one of the first PV system installations under the reinvigorated program created by the city of Charlottesville through a partnership with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) that offers businesses a low-cost mechanism to install solar power for their energy needs.
“The city of Charlottesville is committed to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change programs community-wide and within its own organization,” said councilor Mike Signer. “The city partnered with LEAP to establish the Commercial Clean Energy Loan Program, an interest rate reduction program, as a strategy to promote, enable, and invest in the use of renewable technologies and energy efficiency improvements in commercial properties.”
Provided by Charlottesville-based Sigora Solar, Virginia’s largest solar and energy efficiency provider, the new system will produce 192,510 kWh per year or 50% of the company’s power needs, while reducing Indoor Biotech’s utility bills by 50%.
Indoor Biotechnologies’s president and CEO, Martin Chapman, said financing and tax credits provided by the partners were critical in moving this project forward. He added that the company is fully committed to sustainability and renewable energy.
“Indoor Biotechnologies is a world leader in the allergy field providing cutting edge allergens and test kits for research and diagnostic use. Our newly designed laboratory facilities in the Silk Mills Building are energy efficient, but still use a lot of power,” said Chapman. “The Silk Mills building has a huge flat roof and is ideal for solar panels. We are delighted to team up with Sigora Solar, LEAP, Pioneer Bank and the city of Charlottesville in a public-private partnership to build one of the largest solar installations in the city.”
The system is designed to be an unobtrusive addition to the historic Silk Mills Building on Harris Street in the Rose Hill neighborhood.
“The employees of Sigora Solar are proud to be a part of one of the first renewable installations for this City of Charlottesville and LEAP pro-business program,” said Logan Landry, Sigora Solar’s CEO. “Not only are we all positioning a local business for future growth and success, we’re helping the environment. This system will offset 142 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of 170 acres of forest or taking 31 cars off the roads.”
Financing for the Indoor Biotechnologies project came from Pioneer Bank, a community bank. LEAP’s program will pay the interest on the loan down to 0% APR. As a result, the LEAP program will save Indoor Biotechnologies $60,0000 in interest.
“Pioneer Bank is pleased to participate in the Local Energy Alliance Program’s interest rate reduction program established by the city of Charlottesville,” said Reid Young, senior vice president for commercial lending. “Due to the bank’s long-standing relationship with Indoor Biotechnologies, the opportunity was extended for our company to participate in this worthwhile endeavor.”
How more businesses can benefit from LEAP and solar
In 2011, the city of Charlottesville started the clean energy financing program, administered by the Local Energy Alliance Program, as a way to incentivize commercial renewable energy projects, support the city’s technical industries, and promote local economic development.
Under this program, businesses in the city of Charlottesville can apply for loans with interest rates as low as zero percent for a variety of energy improvements such as solar PV systems, insulation, new HVAC systems, appliances, and more. With federal and city tax credits for solar combined with the reduced interest rate, Charlottesville businesses investing in solar can see a reduced timeframe on their return on investment.
“We’re excited to work with Indoor Biotechnologies, Sigora Solar, and Pioneer Bank on this project,” said Lesley Fore, LEAP’s executive director. “We adapted the Charlottesville Commercial Clean Energy Loan Program to make it more flexible for projects like this. We hope that by showcasing the great efforts Indoor Biotechnologies has made towards energy efficiency and renewable technology, we can encourage more businesses in Charlottesville to take advantage of the program in 2018 and in the years to come.”
News item from Sigora Solar