Katerra Invests Heavily in Solar to Power Component Plant

Originally published by: HBS DealerJune 25, 2020

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In Tracy, Calif, Katerra is making its best effort to be a better sustainable partner.

The building products manufacturer and solutions provider has installed a 1.117-megawatt rooftop solar array at its 577,000 square-foot building components factory in Tracy. The move offsets a majority of the facility’s energy consumption with renewable energy. 

Solar panels at Katerra component plant

Katerra has installed a 1.117-megawatt rooftop solar array at its building components factory in Tracy. Calif.

The installation features more than 3,000 solar panels that will generate around 1.73-gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity annually. Over the system’s 25-year lifespan, Katerra said the panels will offset more than 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to the emissions from 450,000 gallons of gasoline. 

The Menlo, Calif.-based company also implemented an intelligent energy monitoring platform at the Tracy factory that uses artificial intelligence to detect facility issues and pinpoint energy-saving opportunities. 

The Tracy advanced manufacturing facility has fully automated wood frame wall production lines, automated floor lines, automated cabinet and finish areas, automated roof truss lines, an automated window line, and a light-gauge steel production line. The factory is expected to produce, on an annual basis, the equivalent of 12,500 multifamily units while bringing more than 500 new jobs to California’s East Bay region.

Katerra said that it partnered with Verdigris to install an electricity submetering system that monitors equipment performance and drives utility cost savings. 

During the first month of monitoring, Katerra said that it uncovered a list of key operational improvements to save energy, including phase balance correction, lighting control commissioning, and compressor controls.

Verdigris’ fast sampling meters also enable artificial intelligence algorithms to track the health of Katerra’s equipment and anticipate maintenance needs. 

“Submetering is an important part of our efforts to quantify the environmental footprint of our assemblies and buildings,” Katerra said. “With this monitoring in place, we can report the energy used to manufacture each wall, window, and cabinet, then roll that up into a whole building environmental declaration. By using this data from across the product lifecycle, Katerra can identify impact hot spots and prioritize strategies that add value for our customers and care for the environment.”