If You’re Going to Build a Wall, It Might as Well Be a Solar Wall

New York’s Quixotic Systems has done just that, building a “Solar Wall” in the Bronx


What do you do when you want to install solar in a dense urban area? You get creative.

That’s what New York City solar installer Quixotic Systems did in the heart of the Bronx. Amidst all the talk these days of building walls, Quixotic Systems took action and built its own wall — one that will save money for Urban Health Plan (UHP), a network of community health centers based in the South Bronx and Queens. It’s a wall of solar panels.

Unlike most rooftop systems, the innovative 37kW array has been installed on the side of Urban Health Plan’s Simpson Pavilion. The “solar wall” will optimize the facility’s clean energy production and save money for critical community healthcare services.

In 2014, UHP built the Simpson Pavilion, a state-of-the-art expansion facility, to expand and increase its services to patients in the South Bronx. The facility houses adult medicine, walk-in, pediatrics, behavioral health and OB/GYN departments as well as a gym for patients and a teaching kitchen for nutrition education.

The PV system designed and installed by the team at Quixotic foregoes limited roof space in favor of the Bronx building’s south-facing four-story façade. The high-efficiency array features 104 SunPower® 327 panels mounted on a custom vertical rack.

The solar wall not only makes an attractive addition to the building. It’s also unusual in that it’s expected to perform best in the the winter — unlike most PV installations, which typically generate more power during the summer.

“We’re a progressive organization, so everything we do – from providing care, to employing people to our energy efficiency efforts — we do the best we can,” said Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, president and CEO of Urban Health Plan. “Adding this distinctive solar system not only helps our environment; it saves money that we can put back into services for our community.”

UHP has a company-wide goal to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels as part of its mission to continuously improve the health of communities and quality of life of the people it serves. The solar installation will offset the center’s energy use by 10%, saving an estimated $230,000 over the next 25 years. The system is expected to generate 31,986 kWh of clean energy in its first year of operation, avoiding 24.8 tons of CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent of 54,000 miles driven in an average passenger car.

“The UHP installation represents the kind of creative solar solutions that can be designed for even the most urban environments,” said Gerry Heimbuch, vice president of Quixotic Systems Inc. “We are proud to be at the forefront of helping fight climate change and moving New York to a clean energy future.”

Despite its urban density, New York City has seen increasing installations of solar energy over the past few years. Across the five boroughs, the number of residential installations has surged to nearly 6,000 in 2016 from less than 200 five years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The growth of solar in New York City has been boosted by favorable policies in the state, attractive state and federal tax incentives, and rising electricity prices combined with plummeting solar costs.

Simpson Pavilion is a 54,000-square-foot expansion facility that’s LEED-certified Gold for its many green-building features, including sustainably sourced and recycled building materials. The center is situated on an existing urban site in a densely populated area and has been built with highly efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems to reduce use of natural resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the solar wall, the facility features a “green roof” containing 2,000 square feet of plants to mitigate heat and reduce storm water runoff.

About Urban Health Plan Inc.

Urban Health Plan Inc. is a network of federally qualified community health centers based in the South Bronx and Queens that has served the community since 1974. Its facilities include nine clinical sites, ten school health programs, three part-time facilities and three administrative program sites. For more information: www.urbanhealthplan.org.

About Quixotic Systems

Quixotic Systems has been a leader in solar energy for the New York City area since its founding in 1999. Quixotic designs, engineers and installs residential and commercial solar systems that address complex architectural and engineering challenges. A designated installer for the community-based programs, Here Comes Solar and Solarize Brooklyn CB6, Quixotic is certified by NYSERDA and NABCEP for both solar thermal and solar electric (PV) installations, and is an authorized SunPower dealer. For more information: www.quixotic-systems.com.