Following a lengthy and dramatic renovation, the California Academy of Sciences is set to reopen its new green gem of a museum to the public on Saturday (if you can’t wait, check out our sneak peak). The Academy is seeking to get the building, designed by Renzo Piano, platinum LEED certification, and high atop its qualifications is a 30-foot wide photovoltaic overhang rimming the roof. The system was designed by Quercus Trust-backed solar developer Open Energy of Solana Beach., Calif., and manufactured by Chinese solar giant Suntech.
The solar system sports 60,000 high-efficiency cells sandwiched in 720 4×6 foot panels of Starphire ultra-clear glass from Pittsburgh-based PPG. It is expected to generate 213,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, providing up to 10 percent of the academy’s electricity and preventing the release of 405,000 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air.
Although the academy is still taking care of last-minute preparations inside for the grand reopening, the solar cells on the roof have been up and running for more than a month and are already kicking out some 850 kilowatt-hours of energy per day. For those in the Bay Area, the museum is a must-see — make sure you take advantage of the observation deck on the roof to check the solar cells in action.