FAQ: New Legislation Regarding Solar Energy System Certification (HB 1021)

July 27th, 2017

By Colleen Kettles
July 27, 2017

The 2017 Florida Legislature, through HB 1021, amended the Solar Energy Standards Act of 1976 that governs the certification of solar energy systems manufactured or sold in Florida.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

Florida Legislative amendments in HB 1021 do not relieve FSEC from the legislative mandate to develop and adopt standards for solar energy systems, nor does it remove the authority of FSEC to test and certify solar energy systems.

Q:  How does HB 1021 specify the certification of solar energy systems that are sold or manufactured in the State of Florida?

A:  HB 1021 specifies solar energy system certification as follows:

“(d) All solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state must meet the standards established by the center and shall display accepted results of approved performance tests in a manner prescribed by the center, unless otherwise certified by an engineer licensed pursuant to ch. 471 using the standards contained in the most recent version of the Florida Building code.”

HB 1021 defines the ‘center’ to mean “the Florida Solar Energy Center of the Board of Governors.”

Chapter 471 (F.S.) specifies the manner by which licensed Florida engineers are authorized to submit design documents to local code enforcement jurisdictions for permitting as follows:

471.0195 Florida Building Code training for engineers.—All licensees actively participating in the design of engineering works or systems in connection with buildings, structures, or facilities and systems covered by the Florida Building Code shall take continuing education courses and submit proof to the board, at such times and in such manner as established by the board by rule, that the licensee has completed any specialized or advanced courses on any portion of the Florida Building Code applicable to the licensee’s area of practice. The board shall record reported continuing education courses on a system easily accessed by code enforcement jurisdictions for evaluation when determining license status for purposes of processing design documents. Local jurisdictions shall be responsible for notifying the board when design documents are submitted for building construction permits by persons who are not in compliance with this section. The board shall take appropriate action as provided by its rules when such noncompliance is determined to exist.

History.—s. 38, ch. 2000-356; s. 23, ch. 2002-299; s. 12, ch. 2009-195.

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UCF 1 of 6 Nationwide Teams Selected to Lead Research Partnerships for High-Performance Housing

July 11th, 2017
Interior of townhouse with staircase by front door. Return air grill under on side of staircase with mini-split ac unti above front door.

This mini-split air conditioning unit is located as close as possible to the central return grille of the existing system to help with room-to-room air distribution.

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, Fla., July 11, 2017—The University of Central Florida (UCF) is one of six nationwide teams selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive $3.7 million to study how to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes.

The selected projects are expected to lead to improved home energy efficiency and smarter home operation for millions of American families, saving money on their energy bills while improving health and comfort.

UCF will get more than $870,000 for two, two-year projects, which will be led by the university’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa, Fla. The center is a leader in energy research, with three decades of energy and buildings research, technical assistance, and training experience. It’s expertise has led to it being named a DOE Building America Program’s Industry Partnerships recipient.

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FSEC Earns 2017 ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Market Leader Award

June 30th, 2017

COCOA, Fla., June 30, 2017—The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center® has earned an ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Market Leader Award in recognition of its continued commitment to providing our nation’s homebuyers with ENERGY STAR® certified homes.

EnergyStar Market Leader Award 2017 Certified Homes logo

Home nergy raters submitted 2,905 home energy ratings through FSEC software services in 2017.

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes program presents Market Leader Awards to outstanding partners who have made important contributions to energy–efficient construction and environmental protection by building or verifying an outstanding number of ENERGY STAR® certified homes. As a rating provider, Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®) contributed 2,905 ENERGY STAR® certified homes in 2016, which is equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 4,915 metric tons.

“FSEC is pleased to be recognized for this award on behalf of the energy raters who worked with builders to achieve ENERGY STAR-labeled homes and registered their ratings through our software services,” says Robin Vieira, director of Buildings Research at FSEC.

The expert team of FSEC trainers and reviewers, working with energy raters, are an integral part of FSEC’s success as an ENERGY STAR® provider. In addition, FSEC’s innovative EnergyGauge software “automatically computes the necessary ENERGY STAR calculation to make determining the energy efficiency level of compliance easy,” explains Vieira.

The partnership between FSEC and ENERGY STAR® has been a lasting one. “FSEC helped EPA launch the ENERGY STAR® for Homes program in 1995 and will continue to work to research energy-efficient methods and to educate the building industry on best practices,” added Vieira.

The ENERGY STAR® program helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency standards.

Learn more about ENERGY STAR at https://www.energystar.gov/about.

Review the full list of ENERGY STAR award winners at https://www.energystar.gov/about/2017_energy_star_certified_homes_market_leader_award_winners.

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PR17-05

Permit-Ready Solar System Certification Now Faster and Cheaper

June 19th, 2017
GO SOLAR Florida. Express PV Certifiction System. Fast. Permit-Ready. Low-cost. https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/

Express PV Certification now FREE until the end of June.

COCOA, Fla., June 19, 2017— Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida. The output includes an electrical schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

Express system certification only costs $150—a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee. Tier 1 PV systems (10kW or less) are eligible for express processing.

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Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

June 5th, 2017

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.

Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

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Permit-ready Solar System Certification Now Available Within Minutes

June 1st, 2017
Close up view of photovoltaic panels

Express Photovoltaic System Certification Now Offered

COCOA, Fla., June 1, 2017—Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida, and produce an electrical three-line schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

In an effort to encourage licensed contractor and engineer feedback, a two-week introductory period will allow use of the new express system free of charge. Beginning June 16, each system certification will only cost $150, a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee.

Manual PV system design certification is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. The new express PV system certification process is expected to dramatically reduce the time and costs associated with permitting rooftop PV systems in Florida.

This new express online certification system results from a three-year program sponsored by Broward County with funding from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot program. FSEC was one of several team members of the Go SOLAR Florida initiative that was established to develop policies and procedures to standardize solar energy permitting and remove institutional barriers across the state of Florida, thereby reducing soft costs associated with rooftop PV system installation.

Access the Solar Certification Portal at https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/. For questions, contact pvsystem@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1457.

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PR17-04

Inventor of Laser Printer Speaks at UCF’s FSEC on May 18 at 11 a.m.

May 15th, 2017

CANCELLED. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this presentation will be rescheduled.

 

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series presents, “Imagination versus Knowledge” by Mr. Gary Starkweather, inventor of the laser printer and color management technology.

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series

Listen. Learn. Connect.

We now live in a world where we have access to stupendous amounts of knowledge. How does this knowledge enable new and innovative ideas or does it? Mr. Starkweather will use the example of the laser printer as insight into imagination and the use of knowledge, and also look at other instances of innovation. Many companies no longer spend much money on

Illustration of light bulb with "idea" written as the filament, doodles all around light bulb, and three pencils in yellow, green and blue with the words creative, knowledge, education

“Imagination versus Knowledge”

research and this is unfortunate. Eli Lilly said that research is the “Soul of the company, the heart of the business.” In 1899, the head of the U.S. Patent department said that the operation ought to be closed down, as all the good ideas have been invented. Since that statement, about 7 million patents have been issued. Imagination is very important. Mr. Starkweather will take a look at it and how it can be supported.

WHERE:
Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922-5703

WHEN:
Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m.

COST:
Free

Solar Cars, Cookers and Inventions Compete at EnergyWhiz on May 13

April 25th, 2017

By Sherri Shields
April 25, 2017

COCOA, FL–Elementary, middle and high school students—from Florida’s Panhandle to the Keys—will show off their solar cars, cookers and inventions during EnergyWhiz on Saturday, May 13th.

EnergyWhiz logo

EnergyWhiz – a forum for students to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art, and math capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused projects and activities.

EnergyWhiz is a day-long event that showcases sustainable and renewable energy-focused products with real-world purpose that are designed, built and demonstrated by teams of students. Each project category requires students to share what they have learned with their peers, the public and industry professionals who also serve as project evaluators. Creative thinking, scientific know-how and effective communication skills all come into play at EnergyWhiz.

The 15th annual event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Cocoa campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Eastern Florida State College, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), 1679 Clearlake Road. The event is free and open to the public.

DJ Chill Will—the world’s first solar-powered DJ and also a full-time, middle school environmental science teacher—will be emceeing the event in the morning. He will also be demonstrating photovoltaic equipment components and functions, teaching
scientific concepts behind photovoltaic technology, and educating on the applicability of using renewable energy to reduce environmental impacts. Food trucks and a showcase of electric vehicles will also be at EnergyWhiz.

Competitions will include: Junior Solar Sprint, Energy Innovations, Solar Energy Cook-off, and the Electrathon.

  • The Junior Solar Sprint is a competition that challenges elementary and middle-school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.

    Female student and male student at the starting line of the Junior Solar Sprint yellow track, racing their model-size solar cars. Female student's car is slightly ahead of male's car.

    Students design, build and race solar-powered cars in the Junior Solar Sprint. Credit: Sherri Shields

  • The Solar Energy Cook-off challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to design and build solar cookers and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.  In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients, presentation and creativity.

    One male student positions the solar cooker while the other male student stands behind the cooker, stands behind the cooker, facing the sun and uses his hand to determine the path of the sun in relationship to the cooker.

    Tracking the sun to position the solar cooker is crucial in keeping an optimal oven temperature for cooking. Credit: Cheryl Carson

  • The Energy Innovations program is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work powered by photovoltaics, also called solar electric cells. Teams also create marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to accompany their products.

    Solar panels arranged on a pyramid designed of PVC tubing that sits inside a child-sized swimming pool with water in it.

    Energy Innovations challenges students to design, engineer and market full-scale, solar-powered devices that have real-world applicability. Credit: Liza Robles

  • The Critter Comfort Cottage competition challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to demonstrate their understanding of energy efficient and eco-friendly building design for a pet of their choosing.

    Students design energy-efficient and eco-friendly homes for pets in the Critter Comfort Cottage. Credit: Cheryl Carson

  • The Electrathon is a competition for high school students and older. The go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a given time limit.

    Six electric go-cart-style cars starting the race in a parking lot.

    Go-cart-type electric vehicles are skillfully designed, built, and driven to maximize distance traveled with a time limit. Credit: Alik Smith

This year’s EnergyWhiz sponsors include: Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy, Publix Super Market Charities,  Airport Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, American Muscle Car Museum, LifeStyle Homes, Solar-Ray, Inc., and Smart Electric Power Alliance.

“The success of EnergyWhiz is in large part due to our volunteers and sponsors,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 Education Director at FSEC. “Whether you can spare a couple of hours or the whole day, you can help make EnergyWhiz a continued success.” Volunteers and sponsors can sign-up at: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz.

For more information about EnergyWhiz, visit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz, watch a video about the EnergyWhiz at http://vimeo.com/9522310, or contact Susan Schleith, K-12 Education Director, at susan@fsec.ucf.edu or Sherri Shields, Communications Director, at sherri@fsec.ucf.edu.

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PR17-02

 

Lincoln Middle School Bowls Over the Competition – Again!

March 13th, 2017

By Susan Schleith

Middle school science bowl teams from across Florida met at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF), in Cocoa, Fla. on Saturday, March 4, 2017, to compete in a high stakes science competition. The Space Coast Science Education Alliance (SCSEA) Middle School Science Bowl is one of 50 competitions nationwide that yields a regional winning team that advances to the National Middle School Science Bowl competition.

2017 Regional Champions, National Science Bowl

Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team I members from Gainesville, Fla. earn the National Science Bowl 2017 Regional Champions title. Pictured left to right are Avery Bernstein, Amy Cao, Bill Zhao, Sarthak Roy, Atharva Pathak, and Coach Sheryl Buchanan.

Twenty teams worked through numerous rounds of questions until eight Florida teams were remaining. The finalist teams then competed in double elimination rounds responding to questions in the following categories: General Science, Earth and Space, Life Science, Energy, Math, and Physical Science.

Those eight finalist teams included: two teams from Abraham Lincoln Middle from Gainesville, two teams from American Heritage School in Plantation, Central Middle from West Melbourne, DeLaura Middle from Satellite Beach, Falcon Cove from Weston, and Westglades Middle from Parkland.

American Heritage Team Black offered strong competition for the Lincoln Middle Team I. Ultimately, Lincoln Middle Team I’s extensive knowledge, experience, and speed on the buzzer paid off with the win.
1st – Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team I, Gainesville
2nd – American Heritage Team Black, Plantation
3rd – Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team II, Gainesville

“The students were impressive, not only in their science and mathematics knowledge and skills, but also in how well they conducted themselves.  All were gracious, whether they won or lost.  It gives me great hope for the future!” said Jennifer Thompson, Secretary for the Space Coast Science Education Alliance.

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UCF Establishes Chapter of National Academy of Inventors

November 9th, 2016

By Barb Abney

November 8, 2016

Group photo of inductees into National Academy of Inventers UCF Chapter. UCF Office of Research and Commercialization backdrop behind members.The University of Central Florida inducted 29 researchers into its new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on Monday night in a gala focused on innovation and invention.

The NAI membership has more than 200 institutional organizations that encourage and support their faculty, staff and students to create innovative and groundbreaking technologies.

“We have faculty and students who are creating technologies that change the world,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Our past success, in combination with our ever-expanding potential to impact areas as diverse as engineering, education and health, is growing our reputation as a change agent. This NAI chapter will play an important role in growing that reputation and spurring on more innovation, which will benefit our community here and beyond.”

Issa Batarseh, professor of electrical engineering, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for commercialization and innovation, will lead UCF’s chapter.

“Innovation is on the rise at UCF and this strong inaugural class of inventors makes it clear that we are making an impact,” O’Neal said.

UCF has routinely ranked among the top universities in the country for the strength of its patents. Together, the inaugural class holds 541 of the 925 patents the university has claimed since 1989.

Several new chapter members – who are already NAI Fellows – were recognized at the gala.

UCF’s newest national fellow, Guifang Li, professor of optics and photonics, physics and engineering, was recognized by the NAI in 2015 for his optical-fiber communications technologies. He is the lead inventor on 24 U.S. issued patents and his work has been influential in building faster and more efficient network-communication systems.

Some of the inaugural members are James J. Hickman, professor of chemistry, biomolecular science and electrical engineering, who is building human-on-a-chip systems to test toxicity of pharmaceuticals and ultimately eliminate the need for human and animal drug trials. Hickman has received 10 U.S. patents while at UCF.

Also, Richard Blair, associate professor of chemistry, has developed a proprietary method to give industry-affordable access to graphene – one of the world’s strongest materials. He has licensed the technology to UCF startup company Garmor Inc. and is the lead inventor on eight U.S. issued patents.

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 members. The NAI seeks to recognize and encourage inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate its members’ inventions to benefit society.

Inventors from UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, and the number of patents they earned while at UCF, include: Danny Parker (30), Nazim Muradov, Ph.D. (27), Issa Batarseh, Ph.D. (21), and Ali Raissi, Ph.D. (18).

The complete list of UCF fellows is at https://tt.research.ucf.edu/nai