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Photovoltaic Roofs: What They are and Why They’re Increasing in Popularity

Is it time your commercial building converted to solar?

Energy consumption has been a major topic of discussion in the U.S. and around the world for years now, and while things like oil and gas are still commonly used, there has been a real push to get people to buy into sustainable solutions. Solar power is one form of renewable energy that is starting to become prevalent in many places. Building owners, in particular, are deciding to use photovoltaic – or solar – roofs for several reasons.

What is a photovoltaic roof exactly?

A photovoltaic roof consists of solar panels that generate electricity. While perhaps the most common method for buildings to use the sun to produce energy, panels aren’t the only way to harness this power. A relatively new invention is the photovoltaic shingle, which is essentially a mini solar panel designed to look and act like regular roofing materials – like asphalt, for example – but also creates electricity.

Why are photovoltaic roofs ideal for commercial buildings?

Having a commercial building that generates solar power is beneficial in a number of areas, including:

Cost savings

Because big buildings are expensive to operate, owners have to be as efficient with their energy consumption as possible, and this is one big reason for installing a solar roof. While it is true that the initial costs can be high – though solar materials are getting cheaper all the time –the return on investment is worth the expense when energy bills can eventually be cut significantly. Fortunately, to offset some of the upfront expenses, the government does offer tax credits.

Another way a solar roof saves money is because the panels generate electricity at a fixed rate. This means that regardless of how high electricity rates climb, a building utilizing solar power will never have to worry about price spikes.


Solar panels up on a roof may look a little cumbersome, and they might hinder the look a building owner is going for. But, thanks to photovoltaic shingles, it is now possible to get the advantages of solar panels without affecting the aesthetics of a roof. In fact, this type of roofing material may even improve a building’s appearance, says Emmanuel Rey, head of the Laboratory of Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (LAST) at EPF Lausanne.

“Thanks to new production processes, building-integrated photovoltaic systems have evolved into an innovative and attractive building material in both urban and rural areas,” said Rey. “The enormous variety of colors, textures, and formats that are now available means that photovoltaic modules can be flexibly integrated into roofs and façades.”


Cars are often the first thing people think about when it comes to pollution and carbon emissions, and while vehicles are a problem, buildings are actually worse. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings produce almost 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the country. (The transportation sector, by the way, comes in second at 33 percent.)

As a result, this means that building owners need to do their part to help the environment, and converting to solar power is an excellent way to do it. Some estimate that just a 2-kilowatt system (one installed on a commercial roof may reach up to 100 kilowatts) could cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 85,000 pounds over the course of its lifetime.

Public perception

A business’ reputation is everything, which means it has to be cultivated and maintained thoughtfully. The environment is on the minds of many people these days and those who want to do their part to make sure that the companies they buy from are like-minded. And because information is so readily available, consumers are increasingly aware of the things a company does or perhaps doesn’t do when it comes to sustainability initiatives.

A business that occupies a building with a solar roof immediately tells the public that they care about the environment. In today’s very competitive marketplace, this could be the selling point that turns a prospective buyer into a long-term customer. Building owners seeking tenants would also be wise to add solar to their roofs, as this can be a great attraction for companies, not to mention employees.

How do you know if a photovoltaic roof is right for your building?

Commercial building owners have a big decision to make when it comes to converting to solar power, and this is why it is important to determine if their structure is suitable. To do this, there are a number of factors to look at, including condition and age of the roof, access to sunlight and structural capacity. Contacting an experienced solar roofing company and having an expert come out to your building can help you figure out if a solar roof would work and give you information on the installation process.

If you are interested in learning more about solar power and want to discuss the possibility of a photovoltaic roof for your building, get in touch with Peck Brothers Roofing. Solar roofing is one of our specialties, and we will gladly send out one of our pros to talk about your project. To get started, you can call us at 201-791-3235 or just fill out our online contact form.

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