GRB Goes Green

Houston’s Convention Center is going solar-powered.the pilot project will test the feasibility of using solar panels to power the city’s largest buildings. Laurie Johnson reports.

Two types of panels will be installed on the 16-acre roof of the George R Brown Convention Center.

Thin film panels will lie flat against the roof. Larger panels that resemble windows will be mounted at angles along the edges of the building.

Houston Mayor Bill White says the $1 million project is funded primarily by the Houston Endowment.

“Our utility bills have gone up. We are more and more aware, in part because of pioneering work funded by the Houston Endowment, of the need to have clean air and what we do to clean that air. And we are a city that likes to be affordable, which means that we want to make investments that reduce our operating costs over the long run. Solar panels do that.”

The design for the solar roof was put together by the Houston Architecture Foundation. Bryan Malarkey says they want the solar panels to be able to function in times when regular power sources are unavailable, like during hurricanes.

“They perform very, very well. They are designed to take a certain amount of hail damage, wind…and we are definitely taking that into consideration in hindsight of what’s just happened here.”

The current plan is to use the solar panels to power the GRB’s emergency lighting system.

If the pilot project is successful, the city plans to install enough panels to provide 20 percent of all energy used at the GRB.

Laurie Johnson. Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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