Full Spectrum Solar  is designing and installing the solar domestic hot water and in-floor heating system for Underhill House.  They celebrated their Ten Year Anniversary with an open house today that was part of the Commercial Sustainable Showcase – one of the ways Madison WI is whooping it up for Earth Day.

Doug and I have been at Full Spectrum several times now.  First when we were interviewing five different companies to select our solar provider.  We picked Full Spectrum because they had clear expertise and also the willingness and flexibility to work with our unconventional, natural-built plans.

We have put our heads together with one of their project engineers, Andy DeRocher, several times as he has planned and refined our system.  Andy has been meticulous in customizing our system.  He is a civil engineer, master plumber, NABCEP certified solar heating installer and Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) solar electric instructor.

Doug checks out a demo-sized version of the solar panels we will be installing.

When we visited today, we learned that there are even more reasons to like Full Spectrum.   Their building is walking the solar walk.  The offices are heated with in-floor heat and they generate 1.4 KWH of electricity with a photovoltaic array, They also use several electricity-saving devices and methods  as well.

Even their sign on the street highlights a desire to conserve energy.  Madison, like many municipalities has regulations about how much light business signs can emit.  When you see those big boxes outside businesses that are lit from within, you are seeing a lot of wasted energy in most cases.  They have one light source, which must shine a lot of light to make the words bright.  Co-owner, Burke O’Neal was unwilling to use the 400 watt bulb required.  Instead he came up with a system of LEDs that illuminate the sign with only 100 watts.

Full Spectrum's sign saves energy.

Their building also has:

  • High-efficiency boiler system with radiant heat
  • Motion activated on-demand hot water recirculation system
  • Natural daylighting of office area
  • Nighttime ventilation system for summer cooling
  • Super-insulated walls and ceiling
  • Carbon-dioxide regulated ventilation
  • Reused office furniture and light fixtures
  • Salvaged bamboo flooring from Habitat for Humanity

Powering up the Volt.

They not only walk the walk–they ride the ride:

  • Their diesel utility vans are mainly dodge Sprinters, with 40 to 50% better than mileage than standard gas-fueled vans.
  • They just leased a Chevy Volt.
  • For short trips around town they ride a solar-charged hybrid electric bicycle.

    Hybrid electric bike - how cool is that?

While we were enjoying the open house, we joined Andy at his desk to make a few final tweaks to the plans for installing the pecs tubing for our lower floor.  Weather permitting that will be installed on Monday April 23.  Three guesses what my post will be about Tuesday.

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