SunPower® Solar on New Smithsonian National Museum of African American History

By:Derek Noble

September 22, 2016

The Smithsonian Institution's New National Museum of African American History and Culture uses SunPower solar to be green.

Photo courtesy of Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC

Editor’s Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

On Saturday the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will officially open to the public. Billed as “100 Years in the Making,” it’s a long-awaited addition to the Smithsonian family of museums in Washington, D.C., and is located in an absolutely gorgeous new environmentally green building on the National Mall.

We are proud that The Smithsonian chose SunPower® technology and SunPower installer Solar Solution for the new museum’s energy needs in a competitive bidding process.

The beautiful and unique building will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certified, which means that it meets a variety of green goals in its design and execution, including the use of solar energy. The rooftop boasts a nearly 100 kilowatt solar array that is expected to produce more than 136,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually. The 301 SunPower panels will meet a significant portion of the museum’s energy needs while lowering its electric bills. Solar power and other green building initiatives that are part of this forward-thinking facility demonstrate to all Americans how a clean energy future is possible.

“As a D.C. resident, it has been exciting to watch the project get off the ground and develop into the exceptional structure that stands today,” says JD Elkurd,“ Executive Director of Solar Solution,  Washington, D.C.-based CBE certified solar installation company.  “With its contemporary modern design, it was only rational (to choose) a SunPower system, which can offer the world’s most efficient PV panels available. Standing as a reflection of our past and a beacon to our future, having the museum go solar provides the motivation and sets an example for others to go solar.”

More Museums Going Green with Solar

More museums going green

Solar is becoming the primary energy choice of more government and nonprofit institutions, which are motivated by a desire to save taxpayers money at the national, state and local levels and to free up dollars for needed services or to create educational programming. In fact, not far away from the new museum is the U.S. Department of Energy, which went solar with SunPower in 2008.

Museums and public entities are often eligible for renewable energy and sustainability-focused grants and public funding options that enable them to explore some of the most forward-thinking green building options available.

For example, the LEED Double Platinum certified California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco features a soil- and vegetation-covered living roof surrounded by 60,000 SunPower solar cells that supply almost 213,000 kilowatts of energy per year. And the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose in California united four local partners on a mission to save energy, educate youths and rebuild lives by having the San Jose Conservation Corps Youth help install its solar panels.

Museums Going Solar with SunPower

Congrats to Solar Solution and all who brought to life the vision of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which so eloquently states on its website that it will be: “… a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.”

It’s an inspirational vision and mission that’s reflected in the building itself, a model for sustainability and environmental stewardship.