With 300 cloud-free days a year and soaring temperatures in June through August, Santa Ana Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., has a new structure that takes advantage of all that sunshine while protecting members from the heat.
In June, the Santa Ana Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., completed the installation of a 250-kilowatt solar carport, featuring 810 solar panels that cover the two middle rows, or about half, of the parking lot. In addition to offering more shaded parking and being eco-friendly, the new facility also helps the club cut operating costs.
“This program focused solely on how to reduce a substantial expense with the end result having a significant impact on our bottom line,” says Derek Gutierrez, Director of Golf/General Manager. “Members were kept informed throughout the process and have been complimentary of this green initiative, as it brings added value to their membership and could potentially help keep dues increases to a minimum.”
In the Southwest, solar carports are not an uncommon sight, Gutierrez says. But most look very industrial, he adds, and are “to be honest, not always aesthetically pleasing.” Much of the architecture on the Santa Ana GC property is Pueblo-themed in style and color, so the club’s Board of Directors wanted the new structure to fit in well. Osceola Energy, a local contractor, designed a carport that includes Southwestern-style corbels, stained-glass emblems with the club’s logo, and LED light fixtures for evening restaurant patrons.
The project took about six months to complete, Gutierrez says, and the club covered the costs of the project without seeking outside financing (he notes, though, that projects like these often qualify for grants or renewable energy credits). The club expects a total return on its investment in eight to ten years—with immediate benefit from showing golf patrons and members how it has made this commitment to sustainability and the environment.
“Many corporate groups and associations are looking for properties that share their same values when booking outings and meetings,” Gutierrez says. “We will use the solar installation to brand ourselves as environmentally friendly.”