Blog

Solar Innovations, Inc.’s Skylight Featured in SMWV’s Butterfly Exhibit

July 8, 2013

Solar Innovations, Inc., a custom manufacturer of residential and commercial skylights; greenhouses; garden windows; conservatories; sunrooms; folding, sliding, and stacking walls, doors, windows, and screens; manufactures skylight for SMWV’s butterfly exhibit.

Butterfly Garden
Butterfly Garden Skylight
Butterfly Skylight Rooftop
Butter Fly Skylight News Article

Pine Grove, PA, July 8, 2013 – Solar Innovations, Inc. recently completed a custom skylight project for the Science Museum of Western Virginia. The museum, located in Roanoke, Virginia, underwent a renovation that included the addition of an overhead skylight for its butterfly exhibit. The butterfly garden is open to the public and provides visitors the opportunity to interact with numerous butterfly species, some with wingspans up to 8″ long. The exhibit can also be observed from a rooftop center through the skylight, which has generated positive responses from visitors.

The Solar Innovations, Inc. manufactured skylight which measures roughly 41’L x 28’W x 8’H, was installed by American Door and Glass of Southwest Virginia. Unlike a traditionally styled skylight, this unit features an irregular lean-to shape with hipped ends and a flared midsection. The skylight was adorned by structural steel “wings” which rise above the spine of the structure and are intended to enhance the butterfly theme that is carried throughout the building.

During the renovation process a steel foundation was constructed for the skylight attachment. Solar Innovations, Inc.’s flexible glazing system was used for the skylight’s framing and acts as a veneer when attached to the steel. The aluminum system features a Class 1 Clear Anodized finish that will better withstand exposure to the elements when compared to a typical painted finish.

Because of the skylight’s complex shape, considerable efforts were required to maintain accuracy while working alongside the structural steel. “Because of the limited space available on the roof, maintaining proper personal safety controls during the installation took careful planning and strategy as well,” explained Jason Dolittle of American Door and Glass.  The glazing installation was accomplished by craning the glass to the roof, staging, and installing each piece by hand.

According to Derek Kellogg, the museum’s lead animal care specialist, natural light is the most cost effective way to provide the amount of light required for butterflies to remain active. He also noted that most butterflies are nectar-feeding and keeping them requires the museum to maintain a large number of nectar producing plants. Flowering plants require high levels of light in the photosynthetically active spectrum for nectar production; making glazed structures ideal habitats for butterfly exhibits.

A unique feature of the project is the multiple glazing options included in portals of the skylight. Glass featuring a LowE coating, frosted glass, and clear glass panel sections were strategically placed throughout the skylight. All of the glazing is laminated, as dictated by national building codes and a blue tint was applied to certain sections of the skylight for aesthetic contrast. With the exception of LowE, this was chosen because of its ability to minimize solar input. Because butterflies require a constant temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, LowE glazing was implemented to provide a cost effective solution to conventional heating and cooling­­ methods­­­­.

Currently, the plants and butterflies are thriving in the exhibit. Mr. Kellogg notes that skylight system’s effectiveness will be tested over the winter, when day length decreases and sunlight is less intense. “March was very promising,” says Kellogg but he insists that December will be the true performance test.

More information on specific projects can be found on Solar Innovations, Inc.’s website with a feature highlight for each of the product lines.  If you would like more information on Solar Innovations, Inc.’s skylight system or are interested in receiving an updated brochure, please contact the marketing department at skylight@solarinnovations.com or call 800-618-0669.