Great Green: The Hot Seller in Silicon Valley

High electricity rates make solar the way to go in California.
By Susan Bady, Senior Editor, Design | August 31, 2008

For aesthetic reason as well as performance, Pinn Brothers Fine Homes chose Energy Tile solar PV modules, which mimic conrete tiles and blend into the roof. 
Photo: OCR Solar & Roofing

California's high electricity rates are spurring consumer demand for solar-powered homes at a community in San Jose, Calif. Along with other energy-saving features, solar photovoltaic (PV) roof modules are standard at Orchard Heights, built by Pinn Brothers Fine Homes.

Orchard Heights and Falcon Place, another Pinn Brothers community, are the first single-family neighborhoods in San Jose that are both solar-powered and LEED-certified. The builder is partnering with OCR Solar & Roofing of Vacaville, Calif., to install BP Solar's roof-integrated EnergyTile modules.

“EnergyTiles don't just sit on the roof — they become the roof,” says Aaron Nitzkin, vice president of OCR's solar division. “It's a roofing product that just happens to generate electricity.” The modules resemble concrete roof tiles and are embedded with solar technology.

“When buyers visit our models and see the installed system, they're fairly impressed,” says John Moniz, project manager for San Jose-based Pinn Brothers. Since Orchard Heights opened on March 15, 2008, 29 homes have been sold. Pricing ranges from $1.1 million to $1.3 million.

Nitzkin says that builders find EnergyTiles, which have a 25-year warranty, more aesthetically pleasing than traditional panels. “You might drive by one of these homes and not even realize there's solar on the roof. It blends into the roofline so well.”


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