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THE GREEN LEAF


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Solar company renovates office with sunny views

By Nina Wu

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:25 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011



There's a RevoluSun going on as more businesses and home owners, fed up with high electricity costs, decide to take energy into their own hands and go solar.

The growing list includes Bishop Museum, Molokai General Hospital, Pacific Ocean Fisheries and the Fish Auction building, all of which have installed solar photovoltaic systems on their rooftops.

As the movement grows, so does a small segment of Hawaii's economy.

Solar power companies like RevoluSun are building a green-collar work force. There are an estimated 11,145 such jobs in Hawaii right now, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, with an additional 2,903 expected in 2012.

RevoluSun, which started in July 2009, has been expanding its payroll by hiring about one to two new employees a month, said RevoluSun partner Eric Carlson. The company, which just moved its headquarters to the penthouse of the Pan Am Building, is also in discussions with landlord Pacific Office Properties on the possibility of installing a 100-kilowatt solar PV system on top of the 17-story landmark on Kapiolani Boulevard. RevoluSun has checked out the roof's layout and says it can be done, Carlson said.

Walking into the company's office, which relies mostly on natural light from windows, you can feel a new energy.

Walls were removed to create an open workspace designed and built by Mike Fairall of Mokulua Woodworking and Lian Eoyang of ViF.

The reception desk has a beautiful kiawe wood counter on a base of recycled trim in an array of colors.

Work stations were built from 50 reclaimed doors from Re-Use Hawaii, while the flooring was made from 87 percent recycled carpet. There are enclosed offices along the wall, but with recycled windows that let light through.

The best view isn't the corner office belonging to the president and CEO, but an informal cafe and meeting area where many of the sales staff make their pitches.

Besides serving as headquarters, the penthouse space is expected to be a showroom for Hawaii architects and engineers as well as a meeting and networking space for green professionals this summer, Carlson said.

Demand for solar electricity is growing.

Hawaiian Electric Co. ranked third among the top 10 utilities nationally in solar generation capacity installed per customer, having put in about 33.16 solar watts per customer in 2010, according to a recent report by the Solar Electric Power Association. The previous year, HECO ranked No. 8.

California still dominates the market, with Silicon Valley topping rankings for solar watts per customer, but there is definitely room for more growth in Hawaii.

On average, RevoluSun is installing about 100 new solar PV systems on residential homes per month, not including commercial projects, Carlson said. As more financing options become available, he's confident demand for solar PV systems will increase.

Homeowners and businesses in Hawaii are still eligible for a 35 percent state tax credit and 30 percent federal tax credit for solar installations.

Nina Wu writes about environmental issues. Reach her at 529-4892 or nwu@staradvertiser.com.






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