Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) and sister company SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY) unveiled new solar roofing tiles at an event on Friday at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

“The concept behind the new technology is to make solar panels “as appealing as electric cars,” Musk told the audience. “The goal is … to make solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation and an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity,” Musk said. Musk is also chairman of SolarCity, which Tesla plans to buy in a $2.2 billion acquisition deal.

Traditional solar panels typically have photovoltaic cells assembled on a rectangular glass frame that sits on top of a roof. Tesla and SolarCity have updated the look by embedding technology that converts sunlight into electricity within glass roofing tiles. The goal is to make solar panels less of an eyesore and more of what consumers would like to install on their modern homes. Musk showcased various types of solar roofs, which were set up on mock buildings around the studio.

tesla-roofing-tilesTesla will make four variations of the glass roof tiles: an American-style textured glass tile; a French slate roof tile; one with a smooth, modern look; and a Tuscan tile that mimics Italian terracotta roofing. SolarCity will begin making solar products next summer at a factory in Buffalo, New York. In addition to the solar panels, Musk also revealed new versions of its batteries for buildings and the power grid. Tesla’s newest generation Powerwall 2 will cost $5,500 and can provide 14 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is enough juice to power a four-bedroom home for a day.

“People always think of Tesla as an electric-car company, but really the whole point of Tesla was to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk said.

After Tesla merges with SolarCity, the combined company is expected to achieve more than $150 million in cost savings in its first year. Additional information about the proposed merger is planned for Nov. 1. Shareholders on each side of the transaction are scheduled to vote on the merger on Nov. 17.

Tesla just reported third-quarter profits of $22 million, or 14 cents per share, beating Wall Street’s expectations. It’s the first quarterly profit Palo Alto-based Tesla has reported since the first quarter of 2013.

In January 2015, Tesla Motors of Florida Inc. signed a lease for a 2.57-acre, 33,750-square-foot warehouse in Interstate Park, 100 S. Lake Destiny Drive near Eatonville, where the car maker built out a showroom, sales center, service center and charging station. This was a second Central Florida location for Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), as the company in 2013 opened a ministore and service center in Longwood.

Musk‘s SpaceX rocket company also has a significant presence on Florida’s Space Coast, where it launches its Falcon 9 rockets from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.


Source: SFBJ

Providing better incentives and more financing options are among the ways to encourage commercial building owners to invest in green technology in Houston, a report concludes.

The recent report unveiled at Rice University includes an action plan with recommendations that could apply to a range of buildings, from the smallest strip centers to the tallest towers. The report follows a three-day workshop, the Houston Energy Efficiency in Buildings Laboratory, that brought business and city leaders together in October to discuss how to save energy in the commercial sector by at least 30 percent. The group said this saving would contribute to more than $500 million in the local economy, enough to power 10 midsize power plants.

Houston was one of the first cities in the world targeted for this effort, sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development. Previous cities were San Francisco, Shanghai, Mumbai and Warsaw.

William Sisson, co-chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said some of the same roadblocks found in Houston exist in other cities that have been part of this effort. He said local support is key. “In my experience, the business community is definitely out in front and looking for ways to save cost, enhance the bottom line and make their assets more attractive,” Sisson said. He said the challenges are to communicate to individuals the larger benefit of such investing, ensuring there is adequate capital available for them to do so and making sure that public policy keeps up with what the market is doing.

Good For Society

A condenser pump at 2 Houston Center helps save energy. A report calls for more financing options for green energy. Photo: Gary Fountain, Freelance

A condenser pump at 2 Houston Center helps save energy. A report calls for more financing options for green energy. Photo: Gary Fountain, Freelance

The final report essentially argues that it makes business sense to invest in energy-efficient technologies. It also appeals to the public sector, saying that reduced air pollution and improved public health will be a societal good. It focuses primarily on lower-tier building owners who have been more reluctant to invest. Action-plan items include raising awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency in buildings, targeting communications and providing case studies to building owners.

The plan includes financing solutions, such as energy service agreements that reward companies for reducing energy usage, and calls for creating more transparency in collecting energy data on buildings because owners may not have access to their tenants’ energy output. Strategies recommended by the panel include raising awareness through city initiatives and publicizing how much money companies can save through more efficient operations.

Already in Houston, the top tier, or Class A, office buildings compete for LEED certifications and energy-efficient building has become standard. Yet the lower-tier class B and C owners and tenants are less aware of the role and importance of energy efficiency. Those owners also do not have the scale or structure to pursue energy efficiency investments. The report concluded that incentives offered for green building do not do enough for the smaller owners and operators.

Mayor’s Goals

The report said that while Houston has progressive building codes, their reach and enforcement are limited, even as green building has become a focus for Mayor Annise Parker. She announced goals to reduce greenhouse gas emission by80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. Emissions already have fallen by 32 percent since 2007. The city has also launched the largest LEED-streetlight conversion in the country. The report says Houston is ranked fifth nationally for the number of LEED-certified projects, with 369.

Gavin Dillingham, research scientist with the Houston Advanced Resource Center, which will lead the effort to create awareness and promote new policies in the area, said he hopes to show business owners why energy-efficient practices are good for business and show the government that these practices have societal benefits. “We need to be ahead of the curve and operate as efficiently as possible,” Dillingham said. “There is definitely an opportunity to improve.”


Source: Houston Chronicle