A solar energy system helps the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety make the roads safer for everyone.
You auto know
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from motor vehicle crashes. They’ve been around almost 60 years now and their mission is to reduce injuries and fatalities on our nations roadways through researching and testing car crashes at their facilities.
In 2017, the IIHS asked Secure Futures to install a 260 kW ground-mounted solar array on the campus of its Vehicle Research Center outside Charlottesville, VA. The solar power system covers a third of the facility’s energy electricity needs and will continue to save IIHS money over the 35-year lifespan of the panels.
Give me a brake
The IIHS uses a surprisingly large amount of electricity to run their crash test facility, as Raul Arbelaez, Vice President of the Vehicle Research Center, explains,
We use quite a lot of electricity, our annual electricity budget is a little over $100,000 a year. The lights we use here in our crash hall are bright, intense halogen light. The reason they need to be so bright is for our high speed cameras. When the lights are fully on we are pulling about 750,000 watts of power, so anything we can do to reduce the effect of those lights on our electricity consumption is beneficial for us.
By meeting a third of their energy needs through solar, IIHS is able to shave savings off of their $100,000 annual electricity bill. They are able to redirect these savings into more research efforts or crash tests.
“Every dollar we save goes towards trying to accomplish our mission, which is to reduce injuries and save lives,” explains Arbelaez.
A process that won’t drive you crazy
How easy was it for the Vehicle Research Center to go solar?
Arbelaez called it a “turnkey” solution, meaning the IIHS put little to no work into going solar because Secure Futures handled the financing and installation. Now, the solar company continues to cover operation and maintenance of the solar arrays at the Vehicle Research Center.
“We have to pay very little attention to it and we’ve had almost 100% uptime. We’ve gotten a lot of benefit from this system for very little effort,” Arbelaez says.
Steer clear of expensive energy
With a venue that attracts a lot of visitors, the Vehicle Research Center loves showing off their ground-mounted solar array, visible to guests as they tour the facility.
A highly visible solar array is a concrete way to show guests and stakeholders that IIHS is managing their financial resources responsibly by choosing a cheaper and healthier source of energy than what they would get from their local electric utility.
IIHS is effectively using their money to accomplish their mission: keeping America’s roadways safe for everyone.
— Nicole Duimstra, Secure Futures Solar