Scott Sklar: Pushing the Envelope with Zero Net Energy Buildings

Scott Sklar is the president and founder of The Stella Group, Ltd..  He’s been an award-winning champion of solar in Virginia for more than 40 years and is a rare combination of someone who is as comfortable advising high level military and White House personnel on energy issues as he is tinkering with the latest solar technology in his facilities. While he possesses a disarming sense of humor and widely-recognized generosity in sharing his time and knowledge, Scott is all business when it comes to combining solar energy with energy efficiency to achieve impressive results.

Both his home and office building in Arlington VA, utilize a range of solar technologies that work in concert with efficiency measures and energy storage to produce the energy needed for both buildings. The two zero net energy buildings utilize solar collectors for heating water and solar light tubes that redirect natural light into the building’s interior.

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Electricity is produced with solar shingles, flexible laminate solar panels and variety of traditional solar PV panels. A small wind turbine and a hydrogen fuel cell also add a small amount of additional power. The energy produced onsite is stored in absorbed glass matt (AGM) deep cycle batteries and powers a variety of high efficiency appliances including a direct-exchange geothermal heat pump and super-efficient washing machine. Both buildings are well-insulated ensuring occupant comfort while reducing heating and cooling demand. The result: two buildings that produce all of the energy they use with clean, locally-produced renewable energy.

“Not everyone is going to have a zero net energy home or business. However, the average person can do a lot with a reasonably-sized solar system and common sense efficiency measures…the technologies I use are commercially available and are easy to operate”

As more Virginia residents and businesses invest in solar, they can look to Scott’s example of how to maximize their solar production with efficiency and emerging storage technology. Scott’s willingness to share his many years of technological and policy experience on the Virginia SUN Listserv makes him an invaluable resource to the growing solar movement in the state. Virginia Sun is happy to profile people like Scott who lead by example and freely share their knowledge to promote solar energy in Virginia!