Samsel Architects

Project Profile


Solar Electric
  • Asheville, NC
  • December 2013
  • Solar Electric
Samsel Architects

The architectural uniqueness of this 34 kilowatt installation is the result of design challenges posed by a roof with many obstructions. Mounting 57 of the 117 LG Neon series 290 watt modules on customized racking that cantilevers off the building’s parapet allows for maximum energy production in limited space. DC Power Optimization by SolarEdge also boosts the production significantly.

See feature from our February 2014 for more project details.

Commercial Spotlight: Samsel Architects

Solar Energy has received a significant amount of attention in Asheville lately, but nowhere is the recent solarization of homes and businesses that has been taking place in this progressive City more strikingly visible than on Biltmore Avenue. Cantilevered off the South-facing parapet of the building that houses American Folk Art and Framing, four impressively large photovoltaic arrays are silently producing electricity. However, the statement they make is anything but mute; rather it is a strong declaration that this community embraces sustainability and innovation.

 A leader on the revitalization of Downtown Asheville since the 1980’s when most of the buildings along this now vibrant stretch of galleries and restaurants lay derelict, Jim Samsel, AIA of  Samsel Architectsand Beaumont Street, LLC (property owners) is again behind the new energy that is transforming the face of Asheville. “The buildings   have excellent solar access and we were keenly aware of the high visibility the project would have.  The PV panels allow us to make a strong statement about our values as a business and as members of our downtown community.  We hope other downtown businesses and building owners are inspired to make similar investments in solar energy,” said Samsel of the newly commissioned system.

 The architectural uniqueness of this solar installation is the result of design challenges that were posed by a roof with many obstructions and limited space. Mounting fifty-seven of the one hundred and seventeen LG Neon series 290 watt modules that comprise the 34 kilowatt system on customized racking by DPW Solar (featured in our Vendor Spotlight below) allowed for maximum energy production for Samsel Architects and American Folk Art & Framing.  With an estimated yearly production of nearly 46 megawatts, Samsel’s goal is to make his architectural firm net-zero, meaning that they will produce an equivalent amount of electricity that they consume on an annual basis.  Sophisticated on-line monitoring through SolarEdge will allow him to track the system’s performance and measure this goal.  SolarEdge’s DC Power Optimization technology was chosen to maximize the output, helping to make it more achievable on the site.

 Duncan McPherson, Principal/Vice President at Samsel Architects, emphasizes their commitment to reducing their energy impact by stating “WNC has seen the reality of global climate change through floods, mudslides, droughts and record temperatures.  These global concerns, combined with the regional air and water quality problems we face from coal burning power plants, require us to all be an active part of the solution moving forward.  By investment in clean energy and taking our business to net zero, we believe we are part of that solution.”

Economics also played an important factor in their decision to install solar. McPherson says that solar PV has “evolved to the point where it is simply a sound, long-term investment.  As the known costs of coal-fired electricity continue to rise and the costs of solar power continue to fall, the investment should be more valuable over time.”

 The impact of this very prominent system on Downtown Asheville and all who see it remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly inspire for years to come and stand as testimony to the environmental stewardship, smart business sense, and creativity that Samsel Architects has brought to the southern Appalachian region since 1985.

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