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Yellow Brick will put sun to use with new roof material

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Yellow Brick School building is about to get roofing that generates electricity.

The building is getting a makeover this year, and one of the most important changes will be an awning over a basement stairwell that will be covered with a metal roofing material that converts the sun’s light to electric energy. Funding for the project is coming from the city of Aspen’s Electric Department.

The roofing material is called Uni-Solar and is made by an American company called United Solar Systems Corp., said Joani Matranga of Aspen’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency. It’s one of the few products available that truly integrates solar electric production with a building material.

“We think it has promise as an aesthetic way of putting solar energy into a building,” Matranga said. She said the roofing is available in various colors. The panels on the Yellow Brick building will be blue.

The stairway is on the south side of the building, so it will get maximum exposure to the sun.

The material is currently in use in only two other places in Colorado: a building on Mt. Evans and a building at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden. While Uni-Solar is the only building material produced in the United States that’s integrated with photovoltaic cells, wall panels and windows containing solar electric-generating materials are being manufactured in Europe.

The city-owned Yellow Brick building will get a number of other improvements, Matranga said. Among those will be an energy-efficient boiler that should pay for itself in heating savings within four or five years.

The present single-pane windows will be upgraded to windows with triple glazing and “Low-E” glass, which should save a great deal of energy. Energy-efficient lighting will be installed as well.

Matranga said CORE plans to develop an interpretive display that will help educate the public to the potential for energy savings available in building features.

The former school building in Aspen’s West End now houses CORE’s office, Aspen Interactive, the Waldorf School, the Early Learning Center, and the Aspen Skiing Co.’s day-care center.


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