One of the things we're passionate about at Autodesk is sustainability. For many employees, this impacts our work lives as well as our personal lives. For example, that's one of the reasons my wife and I made improvements to our home to lower our energy costs.
It's also the reason we signed up for Alameda Green. The Alameda Green program allows us to pay a little extra but get all off of our electricity from Alameda Municipal Power via renewable sources of wind and solar.
So it was with this spirit that I was excited when my neighbor, famous patent attorney, Don Gibson, altered me to a new service from Google called Project Sunroof.
Project Sunroof allows you to enter your home address and using Google Map data, the service lets you know:
- number of hours of usable sunlight per year for your address
- square feet available for solar panels based on your roof size
- estimate of the amount of savings over a 20-year lease
- links to available solar system providers in your area
Cool - right? Given that I have been tracking my energy bills as part of our modest proposal to reduce our energy costs, I thought I would try the service myself. Here is what I got.
So Project Sunroof estimates that my wife and i can save $5,000 in the next 20 years.
For our home improvement project, our before (red) and after (green) electricity costs look like:
From this, using the green line, we see that we spend about $55.60 per month on electricity. A solar system that would provide 99% of our energy would cost us about $10,000 after rebates and incentives.
Even if the cost of electricity rose 5.5% every year (which is what PG&E estimates) for the next 20 years, it would take us until 2027 to recoup our initial out of pocket costs. In our opinion, that's too long.
So for us, solar is not really an option. From a cost perspective, we don't use enough electricity. From a moral perspective, we're already signed up for Alameda Green. Despite this, I encourage you to try the service, which is as easy as entering your address, and conduct your own evaluation.
I used Project Sunroof in my personal life. In my professional life, Autodesk has its Solar Analysis for Revit technology preview on Autodesk Labs. Revit is our tool for Building Information Modeling where everyone on a project collaborates using a big database for constructing buildings.
This technology preview lets professionals visualize and quantify the distribution of solar radiation on various areas of a mass by taking into account the shading effects from adjacent objects, such as vegetation and surrounding buildings in an urban setting. It also helps with shading device design (effective strategies in blocking unwanted solar radiation) and aperture placement (allowing wanted solar radiation).
Sunshine is alive in the lab.