Saturday, March 24, 2012

Urban Permaculture: Community Solar Picnic Shelters in Seattle

Based on our Founding Principles at we "work with the urban environment at human scale." Seattle City Light is a perfect role model for this! They've installed beautiful translucent panels on picnic shelters in a city park. 500 subscriber-investors will join together to make this possible.

The system itself is highly subsidized with both grant money and generous benefits for in-state panels. One could imagine a lower-cost, scaleable system that could provide shade structures throughout cities. Positioned cleverly, such structures could shade a sidewalk in the summer while allowing the winter sun to melt off any snow or ice. Rain that runs off the panels can be caught and directed to an infiltration area (bioswale), reducing runoff in the streets.

Shade and cooling stations are important adaptation measures in our warmed-up cities. Energy from sunlight is carried away on the wires, lessening the urban heat island effect. Solar cells can be incorporated into public art projects and sculptures.

This way, every city becomes a solar permaculture project! Urban solar gardeners can take a page from Portland's City Repair project - ... Solar gardens can graciously provide power while actually making the cities nicer places to be and giving residents a sense of ownership and pride.

It's dawn. Do you know where your panels are?

- Joy


"Rather than attaching solar panels on an existing structure, Seattle City Light designed the Community Solar project so the panels are the roofs of three new picnic shelters. This is the first installation of its kind that City Light is aware of. Jefferson Park users have sought covered picnic areas for more than a decade, but tight budgets had kept the Seattle Parks Department from providing them until now.
By working together, Parks and City Light were able to create a project with multiple benefits for program participants and the community at large..."

Other than the lack of "quote" marks, this article in Power Engineering Magazine covers it pretty well.

Look at the great artists conception of the arrays here at the Seattle P-I

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

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