March 25, 2016 -- The City of Houston has worked with community partners to recycle and donate solar panels removed prior to a building demolition in the Upper Kirby District. In an innovative partnership with Midway, KW Solar, and the University of Houston, the City coordinated for the 53 kW photovoltaic system on top of the 3015 Richmond building to be removed from the rooftop and transported to the City’s Building Materials Reuse Warehouse, a component of the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department that benefits the community by providing space for excess building materials that would otherwise be dumped in local landfills.
“The City of Houston is proud to have been able to pull together public and private partners to rescue these solar panels and give them a new life in the community,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “It is important to start looking at how to be more creative and innovative with repurposing our materials, and we were fortunate to find socially-responsible companies that agree with that perspective.”
The solar panels were located on top of an old office building that will soon be demolished for Midway’s new development called Kirby Grove, an 11-acre urban activity center alongside the redevelopment of Levy Park. In a collaborative partnership between Houston's Upper Kirby District, the destination will establish an exciting, community-focused, mixed-use environment within the district.
“At Midway, we create enduring investments and that requires good stewardship of resources,” said Jonathan Brinsden, Chief Executive Officer of Midway, the developer of Kirby Grove. "It would be easier and faster not to take the extra effort to remove these solar panels before demolition, but we are happy to divert them from a landfill and recycle them. We appreciate the City of Houston Building Materials Reuse Warehouse for assisting us in making sure these solar panels will benefit a local non-profit organization and the wider community.”
This is the first photovoltaic panel donation to the City’s Reuse Warehouse. Construction material accounts for 38% of the waste stream in the Houston area. To date, the Reuse Warehouse has diverted 3,000 tons from the landfill and has benefitted over 550 non-profit organizations in the community.
“Projects like this help demonstrate how successful public-private partnerships can benefit the community. We hope to encourage more donations of reusable building materials to keep them out of landfills and put them into the hands of more local non-profits,” said Keith Koski, Program Director of the Building Materials Reuse Warehouse.
300 panels and 15 inverters were recovered in this project. The University of Houston will be utilizing some of the panels for student projects in the College of Architecture.
“Since 2009 the University of Houston Graduate Design/Build Studio has designed nearly all its projects to incorporate renewable energy systems, which include employing repurposed solar panels,” said Patrick Peters, Professor of Architecture and Director of the University of Houston Graduate Design/Build Studio. “This donation will allow us to aggressively experiment with working systems and to ensure that future projects will include renewable power. We are committed to equipping the next generation of architects with experience in working with photovoltaic systems.”
In order to safely remove the panels from the roof, KW Solar, a Houston-based solar installer, donated their services to help Midway with the project.
“These modules will now provide tremendous value for many more years at the University of Houston for a generation of students and faculty, with hopefully both literal lessons about the functionality of solar, but also a lesson in how we can all think outside the box and find creative ways to make the best use of the natural and man-made resources we are responsible for,” said Jimmy Garrett, CEO of KW Solar.
About the Building Materials Reuse Warehouse:
The Building Materials Reuse Warehouse, a component of the City of Houston Solid Waste Management, benefits the community by providing space for excess building materials that would otherwise be dumped in local landfills. Accepts material from individuals, supply companies, and builders, and make it freely available for reuse by any 501c3 non-profit organization. The Reuse Warehouse is funded in part by a grant from the Houston Galveston Area Council, a region-wide voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning region of Texas.
About the UH Graduate Design/Build Studio:
The UH Graduate Design/Build Studio designs and constructs for area non-profit organizations site-specific solutions to climate-influenced building problems. By offering Master of Architecture students the opportunity to see their ideas evolve from initial conception to completed construction, the studio demonstrates at full scale the implications of the students' aspirations and measures the quality of their thinking against the rigorous standard of built reality.
Houston-based Midway is a privately owned, fully integrated real estate development and investment firm that has provided the highest level of quality, service and value to our clients and investors for more than 48 years. Our portfolio of projects completed and/or underway consists of approximately 45 million square feet of properties ranging from mixed-used destinations, office, industrial facilities, and master-planned residential communities. Midway continues to develop projects of distinction, aesthetic relevance and enduring value for our investors, our clients, and the people who live, work, and thrive in the environments we create.
About KW Solar:
KW Solar was founded here in Houston on the simple principle that integrating a solar system into homes and businesses should be simple, straightforward and affordable for anyone with the will and inclination to do so. With a decade of experience implementing residential and commercial solar applications in the greater Houston region, on grid and off, we've got the expertise to find the right solution. Our team is passionate about shepherding renewable energy into the mainstream market, with unflinching authenticity and accountability to our clients.