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Building Owners Can Monetize Solar Energy: Here's How

Updated: Apr 15

Building Owners Can Monetize Solar Energy: Here's How

The conversation around renewable energy has shifted from being a niche sustainability initiative to a strategic aspect of the commercial real estate landscape. For building owners and property managers, exploring solar energy isn't just about going green; it's a financial opportunity waiting to be tapped. 

LandGate provides building owners with the opportunity to understand the potential of their building for rooftop solar. Receive a free property report and select solar to see the rooftop solar data and analytics.

The Benefits of Solar Energy for Building Owners

For those in the commercial real estate game, the advantages of solar power are significant. First and foremost, there's the reduced reliance on the traditional power grid, leading to long-term savings on electricity bills. Solar energy can act as a hedge against future energy price hikes and offers a stable, predictable energy cost, unlike the variable costs associated with fossil fuels.

Building owners who invest in solar enjoy environmental perks, which are increasingly important to consumers and regulators. By reducing their carbon footprint, they contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable energy grid and can even market their buildings as environmentally responsible, potentially attracting a premium from eco-conscious tenants.

Commercial and industrial (C&I) solar pertains to solar energy setups crafted explicitly for the needs of commercial and industrial settings. Unlike residential solar setups that typically cater to a single household, C&I solar installations are significantly larger and are customized to fulfill the substantial energy demands of enterprises, factories, and sizable facilities. These installations can be affixed onto rooftops, seamlessly integrated into building structures, or positioned as ground-mounted arrays, effectively furnishing a notable portion of an organization’s energy demands directly from solar power.

Types of Solar Energy Systems for Buildings

On-site Solar Systems

The most common route for building owners to adopt solar energy is through on-site systems. These typically include rooftop solar installations, which make use of the otherwise idle space above your building. Ground-mounted systems, although requiring more space, can be more easily optimized for sunlight and can sometimes be more cost-effective in larger installations.

Community Solar Projects

Where on-site systems are not feasible, or when building owners want to reduce the complexity and cost of solar installation and maintenance, community solar projects come into play. These off-site solar installations are shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced, without any physical solar on their property.

Monetizing Solar Energy

Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs)

Some governments offer feed-in tariffs, where building owners are paid for every unit of electricity their solar system produces, whether that power is used on-site or fed back into the grid. FiTs provide a reliable income stream that can help to offset the initial investment in the system.

Net Metering

Alternatively, net metering allows building owners to be credited for the excess energy they feed into the grid, which can be deducted from their electricity bill. This can result in significant savings, especially for properties that have lower energy usage during peak solar production times.

Overcoming Common Challenges of Solar Energy

Switching to solar isn’t without its hurdles. The initial investment in a solar system can be substantial, and while prices for solar installations have been dropping, financing the project sensibly is crucial. Regulatory challenges, like navigating local building codes and utility requirements, can also require careful consideration and planning.

Technical challenges include ensuring that the solar system is sized optimally for the building's energy needs and that the chosen system is reliable and efficient. Regular maintenance, like keeping panels clean and clear of debris, is also necessary to maintain performance.

Real-life Case Studies

Some of the world's largest brands have made headlines by monetizing solar power. For example, Amazon and Walmart have installed solar panels in many of their distribution centers, benefiting both their bottom line and their corporate sustainability goals.

They serve as powerful examples of how even large, complex properties can successfully adopt solar energy for both financial gain and environmental stewardship. Such companies have found the upfront investment can be easily justified when considering the long-term benefits in terms of electricity savings and potential income from solar incentives.

We have written a case study about rooftop solar being built on city property in Wauwatosa, WI. Currently, the City of Wauwatosa has rooftop solar in their Civic Center, City Hall, and Public Library complex. Read more about their experience here.

Steps to Get Started

If you're a building owner who's ready to explore solar energy, the first step is to assess the feasibility and potential benefits for your specific property. LandGate provides valuable insights into your property’s potential for different renewable energy options like rooftop solar! To get started, you can receive your free property report and dig into the data and analytics. 

The steps that follow can go a couple different routes depending on your goals. For users who would like more information, the LandApp subscription can provide more information when looking at multiple properties at the same time. 

If you are ready to list your property for potential energy developers to send you offers for rooftop solar opportunities, create a free listing on LandGate’s marketplace. You will gain access to renewable energy developers who are consistently looking for new active listings on LandGate’s marketplace. You are not obligated to accept any offers you receive.

Solar energy is a transformative resource for building owners, offering not only a path to lower operating costs but also the potential to turn your property into a beacon of sustainability. The steps to convert to solar may seem daunting, but each successful solar-powered building is proof of the immense rewards for those willing to be pioneers in the renewable energy frontier.


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