Roof and Solar FAQ
Roof and Solar FAQ
Why are we replacing the Farlander Hall roof?
It has steadily deteriorated over time, as any roof will eventually do. It’s been leaking for a few years, and though we’ve patched and patched, we are concerned about the possible structural damage caused by chronic leaking. Over the years, we have had a strong desire to install solar on our campus. The most logical location, on the Farlander roof, was never a consideration due to its age and concern for structural integrity.
What improvements come with this new roof?
Our old roof is flat. Hence, over the years, we’ve had pools of water linger long after the rains. The old manner of roofing with tar and asphalt paper inevitably provides cracks and openings for water to follow. Our new roof will utilize IB RoofSystems’ 80mil PVC membrane (white) with a full 30-year warranty. It will be upon a newly installed layer of rigid foam which will provide a new layer of insulation as well as a slope to shed all rainwater from the roof. Plus, with a new roof, we can finally install solar!
Will the solar panels damage the new roof on Farlander? Are they mounted into the roof?
This is the great advantage of coordinating new roof with new solar installation. The few penetrations into the roof will be accomplished with the roof manufacturer’s PVC sleeves which are then fused into the roofing PVC membrane, and are included in our 30-year warranty. The solar panels are mounted with ballast (weighted) racks.
How much does the roof and solar project cost altogether?
Vestry approved $110,000 for the roof, and $130,000 for the solar, inclusive of tree work to reduce shade. The total of $240,000 is reduced by about $15,000 through a joint purchase arrangement which provides us a share of the Federal tax credits for solar installations. Vestry also is drawing $25,000 from our Estates Fund, notably from recent bequests by Rebecca Gbasha and Carl Wiuff. That leaves $200,000 needing to be raised or borrowed.
How many years will it take until the new roof and solar panels pay for themselves?
The answer depends upon the success of our fundraising! If we need to borrow half of the funds, for instance, we would realize the solar savings in 10 years. If we raise the entire $200,000, every penny of solar energy savings favorably impacts our operating budget right away.
What is the church’s current/average energy bill per month?
Our current PG&E bills have been much lower during the pandemic, because our church and campus are primarily closed. Therefore, when calculating our energy use for the longer term (full operations, post-pandemic), we used our pre-pandemic PG&E bills. These averaged $1,000 per month.
How much will the energy we generate with solar offset our average energy bill?
Over the course of each year, the total solar output is calculated to offset 100% of our electrical usage. At the end of each year, PG&E calculates a “true-up” which offsets the excess solar energy (“sold back” to PG&E) against the electricity we needed when the sun wasn’t shining. Because our longterm plans for energy efficiency include a gradual shift from gas to electric, we built our solar plan around peak usage. One variable over the long term is the impact of shading from trees bordering Farlander. Our diligence in keeping the trees trimmed will be paid back in energy savings.
How long do the solar panels last?
Solaria’s panels are fully warrantied, for both materials and labor, for 25 years. By the end of 25 years, they will still be operating at 86% efficiency. Like most “Tier 1” quality panels, Solaria’s panels will last for many years beyond 25, though they will ‘degrade’ in their efficiency by as much as 1% annually. At 30 years, they should be at least 81% efficient, and at 40 years, at least 71% efficient. No matter what, after the panels have been paid off, the solar energy is ours for FREE.
What solar installation company are we using?
Summit Technology Group, an electric and solar contractor operating in Santa Rosa for over 50 years. They are one of the largest and most experienced renewables contractors in the North Bay.
Where are the solar panels going? Will they be visible from the courtyard/street/etc.?
The panels will cover most of Farlander Hall’s new roof. The old roof is flat, which causes water to pool. It will soon have a slight slope to shed rainwater. Since the panels will be set back from the roof edges, they will not be easily visible.
What trees need to be trimmed for the solar panels? Where are they located?
There are three scrub oaks (the common variety with spiky leaves), one skinny maple and one struggling walnut (#1) on the west side of Farlander. Regardless of this solar project, these trees have been a chronic problem between our property and the neighboring apartments, and continue to be entangled in PG&E transmission lines. In discussions with three different arborists, they must be lowered dramatically or be removed outright. The huge bay tree (#2) on the southwest corner of Farlander (opposite the Memorial Garden) will be trimmed back to reduce shade. The gingko, between the Marian Chapel and its ramp, should be trimmed back for its normal maintenance, reducing shade from the southern exposure. Our stunning heritage oak, located in our courtyard and at the northeastern side of Farlander, causes shade only in non-peak morning hours, and will continue to be maintained normally.
Can I make a donation in honor of someone and have their name on the solar plaque?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, our first two “memorial” solar plaques are designated for Rebecca Gbasha and Carl Wiuff. Both of them left money to the church upon their passing, allowing us to apply $25,000 in Estate Funds to the project.