Local dignitaries attend today’s solar array dedication; system to help power Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ new $48 million headquarters in Fort Worth Cultural District
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — The Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ (BRIT’s) new headquarters in the Fort Worth Cultural District is now being powered partly by the sun, thanks to Austin-based Green Mountain Energy Company and its customers. Green Mountain, Texas’ first competitive retail electric provider to offer cleaner energy, donated $130,000 through its Big Texas Sun Club® to help fund the 52 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system.
Green Mountain Energy® Solar at BRIT will help reduce the building’s commercial energy use and carbon footprint, as well as educate people visiting BRIT about the benefits of solar energy.
“Green Mountain is especially pleased and proud to make a donation toward the photovoltaic system for BRIT, an organization that’s dedicated to conserving our natural heritage and educating the public about the value of plants,” said Kelly Brcka, director of Residential Sales, Green Mountain Energy Company. “Green Mountain has been serving customers throughout the Fort Worth metropolitan-area since 2002. Donating to help build solar systems like this one allows us give back to the communities where our customers live, work, shop and play, while supporting our mission to change the way power is made.”
BRIT’s president and director, Dr. S. H. Sohmer (Ph.D., FLS), and Green Mountain’s director of Residential Sales, Kelly Brcka joined Green Mountain’s Super Earth mascot to “flip the switch” of the solar array today during a ceremonial dedication at BRIT’s new headquarters. The new 70,000-square-foot campus is located at 1700 N. University Dr., Fort Worth, Texas.
“The solar photovoltaic system is a key energy saving component that helps demonstrate BRIT’s commitment to sustainable design and environmental responsibility,” says Dr. S. H. Sohmer (Ph.D., FLS), BRIT’s president and director. “We are pleased and honored that Green Mountain Energy Company, through its Big Texas Sun Club® solar donation program, is helping us achieve our sustainability and conservation goals.”
BRIT’s headquarters is designed to achieve the platinum certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ which would be the first such building in Tarrant County, the second in North Texas and the eighth in Texas.
Green Mountain Energy® Solar at BRIT
The solar photovoltaic (PV) system was manufactured by Solyndra. The cylindrical-designed tubes of the PV system were installed on the Archive Block roof of the BRIT facility and will help reduce the building’s energy use and carbon footprint, as well as educate visitors about the benefits of solar energy. The cylindrical tube design uses innovative cylindrical copper indium germanium diselenide (CIGS modules) and thin-film technology. The BRIT photovoltaic system was built with 285 solar panels. Each panel is made up of 40 individual modules, wired in parallel for high current, which capture sunlight across a 360-degree PV surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity.
Green Mountain Energy Solar at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is expected to produce more than 65,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year by converting sunlight into pollution-free electricity. Together, the 285 large solar panels will be nearly 6.000 square feet and are expected to help avoid as much as 84,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year. That’s the equivalent of not driving over 86,800 miles annually, or 362 one way road trips from Dallas to Houston.
An informative sign about the photovoltaic system and information about solar energy will be placed inside the building lobby to help educate patrons on solar energy and its importance. A monitoring web site will also be linked to the array to display real-time energy output data that anyone with Internet access can view.
Big Texas Sun Club®
Green Mountain helped fund BRIT’s new photovoltaic system through its Big Texas Sun Club, a unique program in which Green Mountain’s Texas customers can choose to support solar energy installations in Texas by contributing an additional $5 on their monthly Green Mountain Energy® electricity bill (for information, visit http://greenmountainenergysunclub.com/about/). The mission of the Big Texas Sun Club is to fund, build and promote solar power in Texas while assisting organizations with a socially responsible focus to reduce their environmental footprint.
This was the 27th solar project built in Texas thanks in part to the Big Texas Sun Club. With this installation, Green Mountain’s Big Texas Sun Club will be responsible for helping to create over 320 kW of new solar energy capacity in Texas since 2002.
About the Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Founded in 1987, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is an international, scientific research and learning center focused on conservation and knowledge sharing. Based in Fort Worth, BRIT documents the diversity of plant life and conducts extensive research around the world. Current major projects are in Texas, Europe, Peru, and Papua New Guinea. In the last ten years BRIT scientists have located and described scores of species previously unknown to science.
BRIT’s herbarium, a collection of more than one million dried plant specimens representing much of Earth’s plant diversity, is among the largest in the United States and is the largest U.S. herbarium not part of a university, botanical garden, or broader natural history museum. Some specimens date back to the late 1700’s. BRIT’s library houses more than 125,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and journals from more than 100 countries.
BRIT’s collections-based research provides information for conservation purposes and is a resource for research scientists, students, teachers, plant enthusiasts, gardeners, hospitals, and many others. BRIT’s plant collections and educational programs are open to the public to help fulfill our mission to achieve public understanding of the value that plants bring to life.
In the spring of 2011, BRIT moved into its new sustainable and energy efficient headquarters located in the Fort Worth Cultural District. The building’s grand opening is scheduled for May 21, 2011. BRIT.org
About Green Mountain Energy Company
Green Mountain, the nation’s leading competitive retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions, was founded in 1997 to “change the way power is made.” The company is the longest serving green power marketer in the U.S. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of clean electricity products from renewable sources, such as wind, as well as a variety of carbon offset products. Green Mountain’s largest customer is the “world’s most famous office building,” the Empire State Building in New York City. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 11.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. As a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG), Green Mountain is back by one of the nation’s largest renewable power producers. For more information, visit GreenMountain.com.