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Parking Lots with Solar Trees ™ Provide Shade for Shopping Malls


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.



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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.


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