Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

May 21, 2008

Low Hanging Fruit: Solar Panel Parking Lot Canopies

Light pollution Open parking lots are a blight on the landscape. They create “heat islands”, are poor at dealing with rain and snow runoff, have lights that generate light pollution and look ugly, and are unpleasant places to be in.

One technology solution promises to change this, the Envision Solar Grove.

Solar panels are mounted on a single pole covering 6 or 8 parking spaces.Solar Panels for Parking Lots These panels:

  • Generate solar energy
  • Reduce heat on the lot
  • Incorporate rain run-off management
  • Power their own lighting
  • Reduce light pollution
  • Keep cars cooler
  • Look nicer than the alternative
  • Claim a 5 year ROI (which is short!)

What’s not to like?


  1. Tom,
    In your vast research on green technology, have you come across any information of US cities using electronic ballasts or double ballasts for dimming parking lot/street lighting during pre-dawn hours? Essex County England is doing a pilot program with part night photocells and it has been successful. I have found 2 companies, besides the one in England, that look interesting, one in Madrid and one in Montreal. But I can’t find any applications in the US.

    Comment by Debra Norvil — May 22, 2008 @ 9:26 am

  2. Debra — my research is perhaps sporadic, or eclectic; vast might not be so accurate :-}

    I have heard of several technologies that incrementally reduce the amount of energy used by street lighting through several “smart” electronics, but I hadn’t thought about how they were implemented. Of course, like fluorescent lighting, street lighting tends to be an “on” or “off” proposition (which is why dimmable CFL bulbs are so disappointing). A second ballast, or an electronic control system might be effective.

    But it’s also worth thinking about how many of those lights we really need. As I look out my bedroom window, I see a street light that serves no purpose (other than annoying me). Our town is in the process of upgrading street lighting, but I fear that they will replace our old inefficient but useless light with a new, efficient but still pointless light.


    Comment by Tom Harrison — May 23, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  3. Tom,
    Arizona Rep. Gifford is co-sponsoring with the International Darksky Association a congressional briefing on Friday, June 20th at noon in the Rayburn House office building, room 2325. This is a briefing on the environmental impact of LP on humans and the environment. I would encourage you to notify your US represenative in DC along with your senators so that they can send their staff members to this very important briefing. Please see if you can spread the word.
    info on meeting:

    Comment by Debra Norvil — June 17, 2008 @ 8:09 pm

  4. Solar Panels are rather well, how can I put this…AWESOME! They save us so much money! And they are good for the enviroment too! Solar cells create the electric current we need! Now what about now? Where does our original electricity come from?

    One more question, Who came up with the original idea to make solar panels? Was it an accident? Was it planned? I would really like to know because I have a project on this, and it would really help.


    Comment by bobthebuilderzgrlfriend — November 5, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  5. Solar power is indeed very environment-friendly. But the technology isn’t very efficient (yet). Maybe in a few more years, scientists will be able to devise very high-efficiency solar powered generators.

    Comment by Plumbing Provo — October 26, 2009 @ 4:49 am

  6. Thanks for voicing my opinion as well. We should all care more about finding alternative energy sources

    Comment by Steven — September 8, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  7. Thanks for the article… great read and lets keep the solar panels comming…

    Comment by Scott Steinfeldt — February 1, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

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