Social Security Administration Boasts Chicago’s Largest Solar Array

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff December 15, 2005

U.S. Dept. of Energy and Social Security Administration officials recently dedicated a new solar array atop SSA’s downtown Chicago office building at 600 West Madison.

SSA contracted with ComEd to complete downtown Chicago’s largest federal solar energy installation, and one of the largest solar electric systems in the Midwest. Since September, the solar array has been powering the SSA building by generating 100 kW of electricity—the equivalent energy to power more than 100 homes during the day.

“This solar power system is a great example of using renewable energy to carry out a vital government function,” said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. “We need to encourage everyone to invest in clean energy to save money and help the environment.”

“The Social Security Administration is proud to be a leader in the country’s movement toward green energy use.iency goals,” said Frank Jiruska, ComEd’s Vice President of Customer and Marketing Services. “This SSA solar project is one of many examples where ComEd is delivering on its environmental commitments and, in doing so, helping Chicago become one of the nation’s leading green cities.”

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculations, the solar panels atop SSA’s building will displace more than 4 million lbs. of greenhouse gas such as CO 2 over its 30-year design life. This is equivalent to the CO 2 absorbed by 20 acres of trees. The system also will save the equivalent of almost 6,000 barrels of oil.

ComEd, in conjunction with Berkeley, Calif.-based PowerLight Corporation, is providing technical and environmental expertise to cover 7,920 square feet of roof space on SSA’s building with photovoltaic (PV) modules, comprised of Sanyo HIT cells. These PV modules convert 18.5% of the solar energy captured into electrical energy. ComEd and PowerLight also are using a specially designed PV tile system that offers roof shading and protection from ultraviolet rays, and thermal energy savings in winter.