Pods Appear on Downtown Building, Grab Solar Panels with Wrench and Garden Hose

Hanging out on the roof of Houston’s new Central Permitting and Green Resource Center at 1002 Washington Ave.: Solar panels, anchored by the first-ever commercial installation of Metalab Studio’s new PV-Pod. The local architecture firm developed the hollow high-density polyethylene pods with support from a UH Green Building Components grant. There’s one pod for each panel, and each is filled up with just enough water to resist required wind forces. This kind of assembly is much simpler to install than a typical photovoltaic-panel rack system with concrete ballast blocks, claims Metalab’s Andrew Vrana. It also allows for a more flexible layout. The new permit building opened for business yesterday.


Photos: Metalab Studio

7 Comment

  • Too bad they won’t track the sun across the sky for maximum effectiveness…

  • If they land in our yard after the next hurricane, can we keep them?

  • So it begins.

  • Extremely functional design. These folks do great work and hopefully continue to gain clients in Houston, would be a loss if they had to transplant somewhere else as Houston needs to innovate in order keep ‘Space City’ as a moniker.

  • As soon as these things can be leased at a price that’s less than the cost of electricity they produce, it’ll be a home run.
    No one seems to offer long term leases that would last the lifetime of the hardware. I’m not sure how many years of amortization it would take so that the payment was smaller than the savings, or even if they last long enough to ever pay themselves off, but if such a model could be devised it would be great.
    Then you’d have tons of buyers, which would drive costs down, getting more buyers, etc..

  • I have been watching the work on the building and have been pleased to see the city rehab a nice old structure. I noticed that they seem to have plants/grass growing on top of a small roof over the entrance walkway, along the east side. Is that correct? I have not been close enough to tell for sure. It seems to me that is asking for trouble in regards to corrosion and the effects of water/soil on the substructure. These things look good for a few years then they end up getting torn out due to damage.