The Solar State

California is home to gorgeous coastlines, rugged mountains and plenty of sunshine almost yearlong.  The state is also arguably one of the most environmentally conscious landscapes when it comes to using alternative energy. In fact, the Gov. Jerry Brown passed legislation that would require 33% of its power needs from renewable sources by 2020, such as wind, geothermal and solar.

It’s no surprise that residents are beginning to harvest one of our most bountiful resource to power their homes and devices. Currently, the state is the leader in photovoltaic home installations to convert solar radiation into electricity to help power air conditioning units on those excruciatingly hot summer days.

This past June, California used a “record midday hourly peak of 4,767 megawatts of utility-generated solar electricity,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Although it falls short of the summer demand of 35,000 megawatts per hour, solar energy use has been steadily increasing up to 14% of total power compared to 6% last year. Every bit of sunshine and solar panel helps California become less dependent on fossil fuels for energy and move towards the renewable energy standard.

Californians have a peculiar predisposition to celebrity culture, and can be quite vain. What good is the environment if we can’t experience it with style? For the past two years, the Prius was the top-selling vehicle in California. Although it is a wonderful utilitarian hybrid, some may find its looks bland compared to traditional gas-powered cars. Tesla Motors’ Model S fills the void for a sleek and stylish electric vehicle. Because of its purely electric drive train and motor, it produces no smog. The Golden State snatched up 36% of the company’s global sales in 2013.

The United State Green Building Council is a non-profit organization that advocates sustainability and environmental consciousness with regards to building design and operation. The USGBC recognizes “green” homes across the world through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. These homes are dazzling displays of what modern sustainability can look like.

Take for instance, the Pickford House in Culver City.   Standing at three-stories tall, it features drought tolerant and native landscaping irrigated by a tank that collects rainwater. In addition to saving water, the home also uses photovoltaic panels to produce 6.5 kilowatts of power.

Pickford House received a Platinum LEED Award

The Pickford House features interior landscaping.

 

You can learn more about LEED certification and explore more sustainable establishments at USBGC’s website.

 

ANDesign is no stranger to photovoltaic technology either! We’ve drafted projects for Suncore including a solar-charged external battery pack and a new way to charge those trusty Nokia phones!

Nokia E62 with a solar battery pack

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Where do you think solar energy is going next? Let us know in the comments!

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