Where do you turn when you want to utilize clean energy sources, but space is tight? Look no further than innovation to solve the puzzle. Technology is changing every day, and Netflix is committed to reducing their environmental impact, and even took on the challenge of finding a new headquarters with solar capabilities. To meet that challenge, LA-based developer Hudson Pacific Properties had a novel idea on where to put the solar panels.
Clean energy projects usually need a good amount of open space for construction. When planning renewable developments in densely populated areas, open space is at a premium and using renewable resources effectively often requires a bit of innovation. No surprise, Los Angeles has one of the largest urban populations in the nation.
Determined to meet their solar capabilities goal, Netflix found a new headquarters in a 13-story building called EPIC, designed by Gensler, located on the Sunset Strip. The initial construction wrapped up in late 2018. Solar power was desired in the building plans, but because the rooftops were already allocated to an amenity area, drone landing pad and mailroom, the developers needed to think about other ways to include solar in the building’s design.
“We wanted it to be technically superior to other buildings in the market—and to make it one of the more energy efficient properties in the market,” said Chris Barton, executive vice president of development and capital investments for Hudson Pacific Properties.
To accomplish this feat, Hudson Pacific turned to a different kind of solar panel construction: Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). By using the BIPV concept, the developers were able to fit 310 panels on EPIC’s east and south sides, which have the most exposure to the sun. Utilizing this innovative design concept allowed the building to take advantage of tight space but still earn the benefits of solar power.
“Here in California, we get a lot of solar exposure on the south side,” said Barton. “So, the entire south side of the building has solar panels integrated into the façade. Unfortunately, the west side is shadowed by an adjacent building, so putting solar there wasn’t effective. But we also put it into the east side of the building, because it gets a decent amount of sun.”
The panels were manufactured by Walters & Wolf, a company specializing in cladding services. According to Natalie Teear, Hudson Pacific’s vice president for sustainability and social impact, the panels will account for 1.5 percent of the power Netflix needs.
Although the solar panels will only produce a fraction of Netflix’s electricity requirements, they embody a strong proof-of-concept for BIPV, which could turn into a trend that urban developers might begin to adopt more and more in the coming years. If the process is economically viable for developers, BIPV could solve the issue of open space for renewables construction in cities with dense populations.
“EPIC is part of our continuing investment in LA and Hollywood,” said Netflix’s CFO David Wells in 2017 when the EPIC deal was announced.
Congratulations to Netflix and Hudson Pacific Properties for turning the page on what solar power can do in big cities when there’s little room for construction. Netflix is poised to move into their new solar-powered offices this spring. Take a look at our other Business Spotlight blog posts for more stories on industry leaders pushing forward with private-sector clean energy development.