By Scott Laskey
Sandbar Solar is continuing its commitment to the Santa Cruz community into 2017 and beyond. We’re proud to be an integral part of the innovative University Business Park (UBP) on the city’s west side. The re-purposed building has become a hub of sustainability thanks to its new carport-mounted solar panel installation from Sandbar Solar.
University Business Park, located on Mission Street, is considered the largest commercial space in Santa Cruz county. The former Wrigley Chewing Gum production plant encompasses 11 acres, or 385,000 square feet, and the industrial building has undergone a complete transformation in recent years.
The historic UBP is now home to a thriving commercial business community that includes several start-ups, locally owned companies and artist studios. Anchor tenants at UBP include Santa Cruz Bicycles, One Wheel and USGS.
Following its dynamic facelift, the next step in launching the massive space into the 21st century was to outfit UBP with solar panels. The solar energy produced by UBP’s solar arrays will offset the energy loads of USGS and Santa Cruz Bicycles.
In April 2016, Phase 1 of the UBP solar power project was completed. The building is outfitted with technology-leading modern rooftop panels and equipment that collectively boast an output capacity of 376kW.
The system utilized SMA string inverters and Solar World Modules as part of the UBP’s solar energy system. These top-of-the-line components will keep UBP running at peak efficiency for many years to come.
Rooftop panel installation is not the end of the building’s sustainability mission, however. Sandbar Solar is in the midst of the project’s Phase 2, which involves the construction of covered parking solar canopies.
The 300kW solar power canopy project is in its final stages, and the canopies should be interconnected by the end of the year. The West Side Farmers Market, held every Saturday, will be located underneath UBP’s solar canopies. This is good news for local merchants and visitors alike.
Once completed, the 680 kW solar system will be the largest commercial installation in Santa Cruz.
Just what are solar canopies, anyway? Solar, or shade, canopies are considered a “dual-use technology,” which aligns with the mission of UBP. Essentially, solar canopies convert a parking lot into a small-scale solar power plant – that also happens to be a covered parking lot!
Akin to a ground mounted solar array, solar canopies offer convenience along with sustainability. Visitors and employees can avoid parking their vehicle under the hot California sun as they conduct business at UBP.
Along with commercial solar panels and canopies, UBP is taking its green initiative a step further. Sandbar Solar also added electric vehicle charging stations within the property’s solar canopies, and upgraded the building’s aging electrical service gear, improving its safety and efficiency. University Business Park now houses two upgraded 4000 Amp Electrical Services, the largest of their kind in Santa Cruz.
Along with our exciting long-term commercial solar panel installation project at UBP, Sandbar Solar made waves in the residential solar market as well. Throughout 2016, our residential solar energy company completed 527 residential installs in the area, totaling a whopping 2,817kW of solar panels in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and the surrounding regions.
In addition, we’re a proud sponsor of a variety of community events held throughout the Central Coast. Sandbar Solar recently sponsored, supported, and participated in Santa Cruz Earth Day, the Monterey Jazz Festival and Surfrider Foundation Beach Clean Up. We’re also proud to support our local basketball team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. In 2017, we hope to see you around town and answer your questions about solar energy!
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.
What Los Gatos Homeowners Should Know About Going Solar
Net Metering 3.0 in California: What You Need to Know
Help Save Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Preserve the Local Solar Industry [Sign Petition]
The PG&E Rate Increase of 2021: What You Need to Know
Solar Panel Installation: A Complete Guide 
Solar Battery vs. Generator: Which One is Best for My Home?