Solar parking lot to become disaster shelter

Start-up Envision Solar and Proteus On-Demand Facilities partner under one roof to send electricity and relief housing to earthquake-stricken Haiti.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

Envision Solar puts solar panels over parking lots to save space. Last summer, the California start-up thought to bring charging stations to its solar lots to power electric vehicles with the sun. Envision Solar is again combining ideas to serve a need. This time it's disaster relief: shelter and power.

Submitting a proposal toThe Cooperative Housing Foundation, they hope to transform their carports into two-story, solar-powered homes and send them to Haiti, which is still reeling from last year's earthquake.

Electricity and permanent infrastructure are vital to the long-term wellbeing of Haitians, and both are still hard to come by. As of last month, Oxfamreported that only 5 percent of the building rubble has been cleared.The company offers solar "LifeVillages" as well, which could serve as schools or medical clinics and add a more secure foundation to the country's tent camps and communities.

To do so, Enivision Solar is partnering withProteus On-Demand Facilities, a Georgia company that provided temporary housing to the first responders of Hurricane Katrina, office buildings to the Haitian government last January, and then hospital beds to USAID when cholera struck Haiti last fall.

The number of photovoltaic modules on the roofs of the steel structures can change according to need. Envision Solar originally designed the carports, or "lifeports," for homeowners who couldn't place solar arrays on their roofs. According to the company, its LifeVillages comply with theInternational Code Council's building standards and can last for 30 to 50 years without extensive maintenance.

Envision Solar CEO Robert Noble says in a statement:

It quickly became apparent to us that such a versatile and scalable system, with the addition of battery storage capability, would be extremely useful in developing nations and inaccessible ‘off-grid’ areas. LifeVillages can be deployed to build entire clean energy, self-sufficient communities, worldwide, with the unique possibility of having a significant role in eliminating energy poverty throughout the world. Proteus’ track record of best-in-class yet most economical solutions sets them apart, and we are proud to be working with them.

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