Solar Innovations Celebrates 19th Anniversary

19th anniversary

To celebrate our upcoming 19th anniversary, Solar Innovations® team members gathered yesterday afternoon for food, fun, and a little competition!

_DSC8681 SMOur biannual Cornhole Tournament kick-started the events, and we named a new championship cornhole team who took down the defending champions from last fall’s event. Our volleyball net and table tennis equipment were also set up during the event. Team members enjoyed snacks and roasted marshmallows on our fire pit.
In addition, our president spoke on our previous year, looking back at our accomplishments and growth as a team and looking forward to more great anniversaries together.

 

As Solar approaches our 19 year anniversary on April 15th, it is fun to reflect how we have changed and grown over the past 18 years. Our team has greatly expanded, along with their capabilities, which has enabled us to remain innovative and push ourselves to Make the Impossible Possible. Achieving our Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) of being the Best Place to Work and the Best at What We Do is not without challenges, but our team has been dedicated to these goals. When I think about how we have progressed from a 10,000 sq. ft. facility in 1998 where we produced simple greenhouses to having a corporate campus of over 330,000 sq. ft. that drives the industry in product innovation, I’m proud of the team that got us to where we are today. Each year has been a positive stepping stone and the future looks bright. Here’s to another great year of Making Dreams a Reality.

-Greg Header, President

_DSC8627tu SM


Case Study: Glass Railings for a Safer and Brighter Learning Environment

glass railings

Challenge

During the renovation of an elementary school in Washington D.C., a client sought to replace an existing atrium space with a modern design that was more inviting. The atrium acts as an entry for students and facilitates movement to the second floor classrooms. The existing design featured a bulky half-wall that wound its way up a U-shaped staircase and around the second floor balcony. In addition to appearing outdated, this half-wall obstructed both light and visual connection from the entry. As the first thing the students would see in the morning, this was hardly an inspiring or inviting view.

Solution

Glass Railing

BEFORE

After reaching out to Solar Innovations®, the client decided that the best course of action was to tear out the existing half wall and replace it with a sleek glass railing. The railing features aluminum top rails, offset aluminum handrails, and ½” clear tempered glazing. The existing skylight that capped the atrium was also replaced with a more efficient Solar Innovations® skylight.

Maximizing the natural light from the skylight was a top priority for the client. Studies have shown that students exposed to daylight during the course of the day attain higher test scores. With the new glass railing system, ample daylight is able to penetrate more deeply into the first floor rather than being blocked by solid walls. The transparency also provides a safer environment for students by offering greater visual connection between the floors for better teacher supervision and increased visual acuity on the stairs.

Solar Innovations®’ precision aluminum craftsmanship and the visual weightlessness of the glass provides this atrium space with a modern, clean look. The end result is a much more inviting and inspiring view that greets the students as they enter the elementary school and provides a better and safer learning environment.

Project Details

Series: SI9500 Glass Railing System with Offset Handrail and Top Rail

Finish: Class 1 Clear Anodized

Glazing: ½” Clear Tempered Glazing with Polished Vertical Edges


Case Study: Lumira® Aerogel

lumira aerogel

The Benefits of Diffused Light

An Alternative to Traditional Glazing

Despite the many benefits of bringing daylight into a space, it can often be hard to overcome the common downfalls of glazing systems. The low thermal performance of glazing systems reduces the overall efficiency of the building envelope, increasing the running costs of a HVAC system. Glazed surfaces also permit the transfer of exterior sound to interior spaces, potentially ruining the tranquility of an intentionally quiet or relaxed space. If imprudently placed, glazing may reveal undesirable views or allow glare or uneven lighting to ruin the functionality of an interior space.

lumira aerogel beads

Lumira® Aerogel Beads

These drawbacks can be remedied through the use of Lumira®. Lumira® is a lightweight insulation and daylighting solution that utilizes semitransparent aerogel to offer high thermal performance, reduced solar heat gain and loss, 75% natural light transmission, and ideal sound absorption and retention. Made of a dry silica particulate, Lumira® aerogel is completely recyclable, eco-friendly, and non-combustible.

Lumira® can be installed in any skylights, roof lights, smoke vents, glass roofs, windows, tensile structures, and fabric roofing that utilize composite panels, polycarbonate systems, polycarbonate faced systems, U-channel glass, or insulated glass units. Lumira® offers many benefits for those looking toward their next renovation or construction project.

 

Renovations and Additions

Anyone living with an existing, antiquated glazing system will see the potential offered by Lumira®. The intrinsic thermal performance and reduced solar heat transfer of Lumira® surpasses that of traditional glazing, making it a superior option when considering a renovation or addition. The exceptional thermal performance lowers heating and cooling loads, which translates into money savings and a significantly reduced carbon footprint. Lumira® will distribute evenly diffused light throughout a space, preventing glare and reducing hot and cold spots associated with direct sunlight. It can be strategically placed to absorb and retain noise or block undesired views while preserving the benefits of daylight.

From a construction standpoint, Lumira® allows for a less invasive renovation than traditional glazing systems because of its lightweight and flexible nature. This flexibility is likely to prevent substantial changes to existing curbing or framing during renovations.

In Case 1 (top image), an office space utilized Lumira® during a renovation. The office was looking to preserve daylighting offered through southern exposure, but sought to prevent the associated glare on computer monitors. The window glazing was replaced with Lumira® and the office workers now enjoy evenly distributed lighting without productivity-reducing glare.

 

New Construction

If integrated strategically in the design phase of new construction projects, Lumira® can significantly improve the overall quality of a completed building. The thermal performance that lowers the heating and cooling loads, saves money, and reduces carbon footprints also helps in gaining or maintaining LEED credentials. Lumira® is also free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), even when exposed to UV rays, maintaining a healthy environment for occupants.

lumira aerogel

Case 2: Lumira® in a Manufacturing Space Laylight

In much the same way that glazing can be used to frame views, Lumira® can be used to block undesirable views without obscuring natural light. Similarly, Lumira® can be used to prevent glare, particularly glare associated with Western facing glazing. The lightweight properties of Lumira® make it an adaptable, easy-to-install material. It can be used in a wide range of residential, commercial, educational, and institutional applications.

In Case 2 (left), Lumira® was utilized in a manufacturing plant. In order to lower the cost of lighting without sacrificing thermal efficiency to traditional glazing, this manufacturing plant was designed with skylights equipped with Lumira®. The finished space promotes evenly distributed light, a thermally efficient roof, and benefits from lower operational expenditures on lighting and HVAC.

 

Reaping the Benefits of Lumira®

As evidenced in the preceding cases, Lumira® offers a wide range of benefits and design potential. Lumira® can find a place in nearly any project from renovations to new construction. It only takes strategic placement for a building to reap the plethora of benefits associated with Lumira®.


Solar Innovations® Supports Ronald McDonald House Charities with Largest Solar Cares Donation to Date

Solar Innovations® Architectural Glazing Systems, a custom manufacturer of sliding, folding, and stacking glass walls, doors, windows, and screens; sunrooms; greenhouses; skylights; and curtain walls; donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania.

PINE GROVE, PA – Solar Innovations® Architectural Glazing Systems announced the conclusion of the first quarter fundraiser of Solar Cares, a campaign dedicated to giving back to the surrounding community. Employees raised funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization based in Hershey, PA that provides temporary housing for families of seriously ill children who are being treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. By allowing families to stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Hershey and the Ronald McDonald Family Room, this program keeps families together when children need their support the most.

ronald mcdonald house charitiesWith 74.1% of office employees donating, Solar Innovations® surpassed the team goal. Including team member donations and company match, a total of $2,575.00 will be donated to the local charity.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania includes the Ronald McDonald House and the Family Room. The House is located in Hershey, PA and houses out-of-town families for the duration of a child’s treatment at Penn State. The Family Room is located within the Children’s Hospital and offers a comfortable living room and sleeping space for family members with children so ill that leaving the hospital is not an option. The Family Room is also available for those who live too close to be eligible to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Services, including home-cooked meals, laundry, showers, internet access, play areas, entertainment, and transportation are provided at the House and Family Room at no cost to the families. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania have personally and positively impacted the lives of several Solar Innovations® team members.

The Solar Cares campaign launched in October of 2015. For the inaugural fundraiser, team members raised over $1,700 for the Breast Cancer Research Fund at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute in Hershey, PA. In December 2015 the team participated in the Adopt-a-Family program, providing presents for a local family in addition to $1,700 raised by the team, which was used to purchase additional gifts and donate to the Salvation Army Corporation in Pottsville, PA. Solar Cares continued in 2016 with donations of over $1,500 worth of food to the Williams Valley and Pine Grove area food pantries, $1,300 worth of pet food, toys, and supplies to local SPCAs in the Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, and $1,850 in donations to the Schuylkill United Way “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive. Solar Cares participated in Adopt-a-Family once more in 2016, this time providing gifts and $1,900 for four local Schuylkill and Lebanon county families.

Solar Innovations® is a single source provider of custom glazed structures, skylights, windows, and doors. Their extensive product line ranges from greenhouse to sunrooms, to folding glass walls. To learn more about Solar Innovations®, its products, the Solar Cares campaign, or to request a brochure, visit www.solarinnovations.com, contact skylight@solarinnovations.com or call 800-618-0669.


Johnny Appleseed Day

Johnny Appleseed Photo

Johnny Appleseed’s actual name was Jonathan Chapman. He was born on September 26, 1774. Chapman earned this nickname by planting apple trees and starting orchards while walking across 100,000 square miles of wilderness and grassland Eastern United States.

Chapman only lived off the food provided by nature and never killed animals. Although he appeared poor, he gained wealth by selling his apple trees and land. He preferred bartering and trading, and he developed a complex system of storing his money by burying it in the ground rather than using a bank

Chapman acquired more than 1,000 acres of farmland which he developed into orchards. In 1842 he made his last trip back to Ohio after 50 years of walking the land.
On March 18, 1845, he died of pneumonia at 71 years old.Fort Wayne still celebrates the life of Johnny Appleseed with a festival in September when the apples are harvested.

Although the winter weather made a small change of plans for today to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day, we are not letting it get the best of us.  Instead of planting an apple tree outside today, our greenhouse expert decided to dress up as Johnny Appleseed and plant an apple tree indoors that will be transplanted outside once the weather warms up again.


Selecting the Right Greenhouse Heating System

selecting the right greenhouse heating system

Those of us that enjoy spending time in our greenhouses may know that heating a greenhouse can be a challenge. Sometimes it can feel like Mother Nature is not on our side. However, if you set up an efficient and effective heating system, you can maintain the perfect growing environment without the frustration. Keeping your greenhouse the correct temperature can be the difference between bounty and failure of plant growth in colder months.

The first aspect to consider is what type of heating system to use in your greenhouse. While warm air is usually the choice of most greenhouse owners for its easy install and cost effectiveness, mounted propane or natural gas is always the best choice for greenhouse environments. Another ideal is radiator water heat, which is usually connected to your home’s hot water system and is easily controlled by a separate greenhouse thermostat. This system can be placed underneath greenhouse benches for convenience.

Placement is key for greenhouse heaters. My recommendation for anyone, whether heating a small growing environment or expansive estate greenhouse, is to place your heat source close to the floor. Only in a small hobby greenhouse will a single wall mounted heating unit be sufficient to provide an ideal growing environment. Since heat rises, placing the heater near the floor allows the warm air to naturally travel upward and fill the greenhouse with heat evenly. Keeping the heat source low to the ground also provides warmth for your plant roots, which prevents plants from becoming too cold overnight and during cooler months.  If you must hang your heater, always try to have your fans placed strategically to force the heat downward. With today’s new technologies in heating materials, make a smart investment in a mounted propane or natural gas heating system and take advantage of the best placement options to thoroughly and evenly heat your greenhouse and provide the best environment for your plants.


Inside Solar: Wood Veneer Vinyl-Composite Folding Glass Wall

wood veneer vinyl-composite folding glass wall

wood veneer vinyl-composite folding glass wallOur team was recently able to install a new unit in our upstairs showroom and office space. We are pleased to introduce our vinyl-composite folding glass wall with real wood veneer interior and black painted exterior.wood veneer vinyl-composite folding glass wall

Vinyl-Composite windows and doors offer ease of operation and a low maintenance, durable frame. As an effective insulator, vinyl-composite systems achieve excellent thermal performance, making them an energy efficient product that can help reduce utility bills in a home or business. Vinyl-composite systems are suitable for both residential and commercial applications. While the popularity of vinyl-composite systems stems from European tilt-turn windows, vinyl-composite is quickly becoming a popular option in the United States. We are proud to offer durable, American manufactured vinyl-composite systems including folding glass walls, sliding glass walls, lift slide doors, swing doors, and a variety of operable windows.

Keep an eye out for more Inside Solar blog posts to stay updated on the exciting changes to our corporate office and manufacturing space.


Preventing Bacterial Disease in Plants

preventing bacterial disease in plants

There are about 170 microscopic species of bacteria that can cause disease in your plants, and it’s important to notice the visible signs of disease your plants may show. Though there is not one single symptom for all plants, several common signs to look out for are black veins running through yellowed areas on the leaves; tiny, round dark spots on the leaves; yellowing of the leaf; wilting or collapse of the plant stem; and v-shaped yellow or brown wedges on the plants.

Managing bacteria on your plants can be as simple as detecting it in the early stages when the leaves begin to yellow or when black spots start to appear. Plants that are only affected insignificantly should be sprayed with a bactericide or fungicide, and infected leaves should be removed. Once treated, try to keep the plant separated from more healthy plants. Infected plants should never be hung above a healthy plant. Plants with major infections should be discarded completely to prevent the threat of bacteria spreading to healthy plants.

Keep your growing environment clean in order to prevent bacterial infections in your plants. Always clean up and discard all plant debris from the plants and pots they are growing in. Keeping benches and the floor clean can also help keep bacteria under control. Mesh top benches are ideal as they allow for excellent air circulation and drainage. Good air flow, either naturally sourced from windows, ridge vents, and eave vents, or supplemented by circulation fans, helps prevent bacteria from starting. Maintaining a well ventilated, clean environment will keep your plants happy and healthy.


Case Study: A High Performance Complete Glazing Package for Oceanside Living

Challenge

While constructing a high-end residence in Southampton, New York, an architecture firm sought an experienced glazier to provide quality fenestration to complement the modern style of the residence. The dwelling is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean to the South and Mecox bay to the North. The orientation provides wide, scenic views of the beach and bay. However, this luxury location comes at the cost of increased exposure to hurricanes, high winds, and storms. The corrosive ocean air, seasonal variances in temperature, and exposure to driving rain translate into a necessity for high-quality fenestration. The desired windows, doors, and curtain walls would need to be impact, wind, and water rated with a finish that can hold up to the tough seaside atmosphere.

Solution

Solar Innovations® was able to provide the proper fenestration for the client’s vision as well as the demands of the location. The high performance complete window and door package allows for beautiful expansive views to fit the modern aesthetic while holding up to the specific demands of the environment. The curtain walls remain largely unobstructed thanks to the high-strength aluminum structure, providing incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The G2 International style windows were chosen for their consistent sightlines and impact tested ratings which perfectly meet the needs of the design and weather expectations. Awning windows were favored for the location because of their ability to shed rainwater while open. Fixed screens on the interior of the awning windows prevent the intrusion of airborne pests when fresh air is desired.

The high performance glazing set in thermally broken aluminum bars provides excellent thermal performance that meets the demands of the climate. An interlayer within the glazing prevents harmful UV rays from entering the dwelling. The AAMA 2605 white finish on the units prevent corrosion that would otherwise occur due to exposure to ocean air. The clean, precisely machined lines of Solar Innovations®‘ fenestration compliment the modern style of the residence and provide excellent thermal, water, and impact performance so that the residents can rest easy in their new home.

complete glazing package for oceanside livingProject Details

Series: Multiple Solar Innovations® Product Lines

Finish: AAMA 2605 White

Glazing: Solarban 60 Laminated Insulated Glazing


Preparing for Spring: Starting Seedlings Inside

starting seedlings inside

Despite the winter weather, it’s almost that time of year again to start our seeds for the spring. Most annual flowers and vegetables should be started about six weeks before the last frost, but it’s important to research your plants to get your timing right. Remember to start your seeding trays with sterilized seedling soil and use clean containers. Specific seedling containers or flats can be purchased, but small trays or egg cartons are good alternatives. If making your own containers, be sure to poke holes in the sides near the bottom.

Light and temperature are very important to seedlings. For optimal seedling growth and strength, read your seed labels to see what conditions they require to start. The majority of seedlings will require your grow lights to be on 24 hrs a day during the first portion of their lives. You can cut back on lighting once your plants are growing. However, the less light you provide, the more your plants will stretch or become “leggy,” which weakens the plant. Make sure your heat mats are set to the correct temperatures as specified on the seed labels. Most seeds sprout best between temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily maintained in a greenhouse with propagation accessories. If you have seeds that start at range of temperatures, it is possible to set your temperature at an average range to germinate a few varieties if desired.

Be careful when watering the seedlings, as they are sensitive to too much or too little water. Make sure to water with warm water rather than cold water. Once your plants have their second or third sets of leaves, they will be ready for transplanting. Move them to individual pots filled with potting mix and plenty of compost for best growth.

Always refer to the seed labels when starting the indoor sprouting process, as some seeds may need to be soaked, scratched, or chilled before planting. We recommend teaming up with a neighbor or friend when starting seedlings, since a packet of seeds often yields much more than expected. Gardening with a partner can also act as an incentive to keep your plants happy and healthy, whether through working together or a little friendly competition!