Stronghold Engineering, Inc. is a construction company that has been in the construction industry for thirty years now. It is led by a husband-and-wife duo, Scott and Beverly Bailey. Beverly serves as the company’s CEO. The company had started operations as an electrical company and was known as Stronghold Electric in its earlier years. Owing to its background as an electrical company, it has demonstrated expertise in electrical projects. The company continues to actively take on solar installation projects as part of its commitment to facilitate a shift towards renewable sources of energy.
In 2005, Stronghold Engineering developed a special Renewable Energy Division. This division has extensively worked with the government, military, and educational institutions, in increasing their renewable energy capacity. They have constructed various ground-mounted, canopy, and rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. A lot of their work has been with universities and schools, for example, the company installed 67 solar carports in 14 Lake Elsinore Unified School District locations.
In August 2020, Stronghold was contracted for a photovoltaic installation project at the University of California’s Riverside campus. The total cost incurred on the project was nearly $1,400,000 and the company completed the project in September 2021. By the time the project was completed, the company had installed solar arrays covering 29,234 square feet. The company has a longstanding relationship with the University of California’s Riverside campus. The two have been working together since 1998. These projects have included construction projects, for example, the commons expansion, and a host of electrical projects, including, a $3.6 million electrical renovation.
This project is part of UCR’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative. It is an attempt towards increasing its reliance on renewable sources of energy. “Our campus is geared to offset as much energy use as we can,” said John Franklin who works at the Office of Planning, Design, and Construction at the University of California. UCR is working towards reaching net-zero emissions by the year 2025.
It is understandable why UCR is pushing for a shift towards renewable energy. Not only is the State of California committed to producing half of its electricity from renewables by 2030, but also equipping schools with solar panels has many advantages.
Since a lot of school buildings have flat roofs, they can be repurposed and fitted with solar panels. This lowers their operating costs. When educational institutions utilize solar panels, it sends a message to the student body about the importance of renewable energy and conserving the environment, which is a great way to pave the way for a greener future. In case there is a power outage, the institution will have a degree of independence, for example, it will have access to backup electricity.
Generally, it bodes well for educational institutions to adopt renewable energy technology, especially in an environmentally conscious society. It will attract investments and might even boost enrollment. Solar panels prove to be costly is a myth, given the developments in solar technology. On the contrary, they prove to be extremely cost-effective. They can last from 25 to 30 years and only require minimal maintenance. In the long run, they save more money than the initial installation cost. Some states now also offer feed-in-tariff programs, where excess energy produced by the solar panels can be sold to the main electrical grid, which results in reduced electricity bills. Lastly, solar panels are a great way to lower carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Under this project, the two buildings on the campus have now been fitted with solar panels. These two buildings include the Student Services Building and the Student Recreation Centre. The Student Services building’s rooftop measures 47,400 square feet and was fitted with 346 additional panels. The Student Recreation Centre’s rooftop measures 17,850 square feet and now has a total of 741 panels. Stronghold oversaw the entire process, including the designing, construction, and installation of the solar panels. The project was designed in a way that minimizes the impact of the solar panels on the buildings, and preserves their architectural characteristics, all the while ensuring that the system can generate maximum renewable energy.
To meet these requirements, the Stronghold team first ensured that there was proper support for the PV system. To do this, they retrofitted the roof for proper support. Before the panels were installed, they were partially ballasted. This was done to reduce roof penetrations and minimize their weight. The panels chosen for this fitting were flat-mounted, fixed panels. They also featured a dual-tilt system, which allowed the panels to be turned east and west. The tilt system greatly enhances the power output while efficiently utilizing available roof space. The tilt system also features a low tilt angle. Thanks to this, panels can be installed in close proximity to each other since the low tilt angle minimizes inter-row shading. This greatly increases the power output of the PV system. The low-tilt system can also withstand high winds, which means that the structure does not need to be strengthened.
Since the program is continuous, measures were taken to allow for future integration into the Building Management System (BMS) of the University. The BMS is designed to analyze energy usage, establish trends, provide instantaneous power, and calculate how much carbon/greenhouse gas was saved in metric tons.
The company has gained significant recognition and appreciation for its expertise in installing photovoltaic systems. The company ranks No. 156 on Solar Power World’s 2021 Top Solar Contractors List. This list is developed to honor installers of photovoltaic systems across the United States. The ranking is based on the number of kilowatts installed by the company in a given year. Stronghold Engineering made it onto the 2021 list because in 2020 the company installed 7,631 kW of solar power with the help of 217 workers. Solar Power World is a leading source of information for solar technology. The editor in chief for Solar Power World, Kelly Pickerel, said, “Not even COVID-19 closures and slowdowns could prevent the solar industry from installing fantastic numbers last year. The Solar Power World team is so glad to recognize over 400 companies on the 2021 Top Solar Contractors list that not only survived a pandemic but thrived in spite of it.”