Envision Solar is causing a lot of excitement in the beleaguered shopping mall world with its innovative use of solar energy: as Solar Trees™ in a Solar Grove™. Panels placed on retail parking lots — traditionally barren, heat-producing landscapes — can now provide shade for customers, while generating up to a half-megawatt of electricity. They can also block light pollution from nighttime parking lot lighting. I spoke to Pamela Stevens, EVP of Promotional Development for Envision Solar, who was visiting Las Vegas for the ICSC Recon show.
“In a competitive economic environment, shopping malls and big box stores are looking for a way to differentiate themselves. Our Solar Trees are not hidden away on the rooftop, and so they create visibility for the store, while providing comfortable shade for their customers, and generating clean energy.”
In addition, financing programs let retailers enjoy the benefits while avoiding initial capital outlays, making these clean energy generators even more appealing and easier for retailers to adopt. Down the road, Envision’s designers hope to make the solar parking lot the ideal place for recharging electric vehicles. I applaud Envision Solar, which was founded by architects seeking ways to design for sustainability, for seeing a problem and turning it into an asset.