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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a nonprofit consortium of more than 115 North American universities and colleges focused on continuous research and training in Earth System Sciences. Since 1960, UCAR has brought together the Earth system science community to share learnings, exchange ideas, and bring laboratory research to the real world in a practical way. In partnership with the National Science Foundation, UCAR managed the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), including the human resources, information technology, facilities, and financial functions essential to NCAR’s success.

To match the unique architecture of one of UCAR’s buildings at the Foothills campus, Lumos Solar designed a 45 kW solar power awning composed of LSX frameless solar panels. Independent Power was enlisted to install the 180 LSX 250 solar modules with a clear backsheet on the LSX rail racking and custom solar awning in late 2014.

The concave portion of the facility’s parabolic layout faces southeast and receives a significant amount of sunlight throughout the year. This architecture, combined with an anti-reflective coating on the windows, was unexpectedly producing irradiance levels up to 6,500 kW/m2 at the apex of the building’s radius and actually damaging plastic components on cars in the parking lot out front. This concentrated solar effect was ultimately broken up by the custom solar awning design. The clear backsheet of the solar panels in the array allows enough ambient light to filter through to provide an open feeling to the building’s offices while still maintaining a low profile for the exterior. The awning also supplies additional shade and on-site renewable energy for the UCAR facility which helps to reduce its environmental impact.

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