HKP Architects is an architectural firm based in Mount Vernon, Washington. Founded in 1952, HKP specializes in sustainable design for civic buildings and spaces, educational facilities, non-profit projects, and private homes. Their projects incorporate Passive House technology, natural ventilation, and passive solar strategies, emphasizing the long-term value through efficient use of space, materials, sustainability, and the benefits of natural light.
HKP Architects is a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certified firm.
Owners and partners Brian Poppe and Julie Blazek were looking to install solar panels as part of a larger energy retrofit project aimed at reducing energy usage, lowering the building’s carbon footprint, and saving money. The firm looked to take advantage of the available USDA REAP grant, which was awarded and funded part of the project.
Modules: (36) Silfab Solar 370W
Inverters: (1) SolarEdge SE10,000A
Additional: SolarEdge DC Optimizers for module-level monitoring and optimization
Design Considerations & Challenges
There were several conditions on-site that made this a challenging installation. HKP Architects is located in the historic former post office building in downtown Mount Vernon, which did not have attic access or an easy route for conduit. The customer wanted to avoid a lengthy external conduit run, as well.
The flat membrane roof meant designing a system that utilized a tilt-up mounting system and heat-welded patches, which were completed by Skyline Roofing out of Bellingham. Commercial buildings also have additional fire code setback requirements and there were many vents and other roof obstacles to design around. SolarEdge optimizers helped mitigate shading from these obstacles.
Photo courtesy of HKP Architects
In Brian's Words
HKP Architects’ public work is focused on engaging and strengthening their local communities. Whether it’s for a local government, tribal government, school district, or a college or university, our projects are intended to have a positive community impact. We encourage these owners and entities to “lead by example” in using their taxpayer dollars to benefit not only their community but also the environment.
After decades of renting, we were presented with the opportunity to invest in purchasing a building of our own, the 1935 Post Office building which served Mount Vernon and all of Skagit County. A perfect example of a civic building. Now, as building owners we were in the position to lead by example as well. After attending a Community Energy Challenge presentation, it was clear that we could afford to practice what we preach and bring our, then 82-year-old building, into the modern age of renewable energy.
The process was very smooth and easy from the beginning. Our questions were answered ahead of the actual install, which made the completion of the work go very well. After a little troubleshooting, our on-line portal was made available to us for on-demand reporting of power generation. We were very pleased with Western Solar’s services from beginning to end.
Western Solar Inc is a leading installer of residential and commercial solar electric systems in Washington State. They strive to design and install the most cost-effective energy-saving solutions for clients.