Spire Solar Chicago, a unit of Spire Corporation, has introduced a clear back sheet version of its 75 watt photovoltaic (PV) panel. The clear back sheet allows light to pass translucently through the rows of cells, adding a new dimension of style to the modules and their design applications. The modules recently passed rigorous environmental and safety testing by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the Arizona State University’s Photovoltaic Test Laboratory. In addition to obtaining UL listing, the modules were also qualified to international stability and performance standards, successfully passing IEC 61215 testing.Chicago, Illinois – August 15, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “The addition of a clear module to our product line allows Spire Solar Chicago to address the special needs of architects and engineers interested in incorporating photovoltaic modules in building applications, known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (“BIPV”),” Steve Hogan, Spire Solar, Inc.’s Executive Vice President and General Manager. “The UL listing on the modules allows designers to implement the unique characteristics safely into applications. Spire is proud of its ability to respond to the special market demands so elegantly exhibited in our Chicago market.” The clear modules will be featured on two new construction developments in Chicago, Sheffield Green Condominiums in Lakeview and Bethel New Life’s Lake Pulaski Commercial Center on the City’s West Side. Farr Associates designed both buildings with features that minimize environmental impact and operating costs. “For our Bethel Commercial Center project, the clear back sheet PV panels turn the product from a utilitarian energy producer into a real design element,” Kevin Pierce, architect and principal of Farr Associates. “The PV cornices shade the building with dappled light and will be visible to pedestrians below.” In addition to solar power generation, Sheffield Green Condominiums feature passive heating and cooling and recycled and environmentally responsible building materials. “In a market like Lakeview, buyers are looking for design features that really stand out,” developer Garret Obluck said. “Not only do the clear solar awnings make a design statement, they make a lifestyle statement: you don’t have to choose one over the other. The Sheffield Green Condominiums prove that style is enhanced by features like solar, which attract buyers who want their homes to reflect the values that are important to them.” Funding beyond the private investment of the developers for these projects comes from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Renewable Energy Resource Program and the ComEd Photovoltaic Incentive Program.