Solar panels to help cut office tower's energy costs by 80 per cent

Architect donates $3-million building for Edmonton women who are homeless, pregnant

A narrow building on a single lot across from MacEwan University is in the architectural limelight for its innovative, energy-efficient design.

Dubbed the Edge, the 10-storey office tower on 107th Street and 104th Avenue has a south-facing wall with 500 solar panels — enough to power 25 houses, says Gene Dub of Dub Architects Ltd., the Edmonton company behind the design.

"Edmonton has a great amount of sunlight," Dub said. "The panels get sunlight the entire day."

The solar panels, which together cost about $400,000, are expected to save on energy costs and pay for themselves within five years, Dub said. 

In addition to the solar panels, several large floor-to-ceiling windows capture indirect light from the north to help cut down on interior lighting costs. About 80 per cent of the building's would-be energy consumption is replaced by the two design choices.

"What it means is you don't shut your curtains down to keep out the direct glare of the south sun and you can have light almost all day long during the summer," Dub said.

"It's why artists in Paris used to want those north garrets," he said. "Garrets with north skylights ... provided the kind of light that was great for painting and it's also good for working in the office."

Dub would like to see more businesses and developers adopt solar power.

"So far, the solar panels haven't caught on nearly as well as I would have hoped," he said.  

However, Dub lauded the Alberta government for helping businesses and residents incorporate solar panels into buildings with a rebate program reducing installation costs by 30 per cent.

The Edge office tower is set to open in June.