EchoPark Automotive Thornton

EchoPark Automotive Thornton

Thornton, Colorado
Hail Protection | Commercial Distributed Solar Canopy | LED Site Lighting
Utility: XCEL

In 2019, Renewvia constructed a series of solar- and non-solar canopies for EchoPark® Automotive, a subsidiary of Sonic Automotive, Inc., at the LEED-certified flagship store in Thornton, Co. These innovative carports, complete with energy-efficiency under canopy lighting, will protect 576 cars and SUVs from millions of dollars’ worth of hail, snow and sun damage. By generating more than 922 kW of renewable energy, Renewvia’s system is also providing 100 percent of power required to operate the dealership on an annual basis, while offsetting 907 metric tons of CO2 every year - the amount of carbon sequestered by 1,067 acres of U.S. forests in one year.

“Sonic and EchoPark Automotive continue our commitment to the environment and our guests.  Installing solar canopies at four of our locations in Colorado and Texas is a big step towards our commitment to sustainability. The canopies are a smart solution to protecting vehicles from weather damage as well as allowing guests to browse shaded, cooler vehicles,” said Jeff Dyke, President of Sonic and EchoParkAutomotive.

“Based on in-depth analysis of solar canopies and alternative forms of covering,” said Renewvia President Eric Domescik, “we worked with Sonic Automotive to customize a solution that not only advances their commitment to sustainability, but also mitigates the rise of insurance costs when the next big storm hits.”

The spring 2019 bomb cyclone was Colorado's strongest storm on record. EchoPark Thornton and Centennial are located at the base of “hail alley,” a region stretching from northeast Colorado into Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas that produces the most frequent hailstorms, overall, in the UnitedStates. Nationwide, these storms cause an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion in damages per year. In response, insurance carriers have started increasing premiums to offset losses, or in some cases, cancelling dealerships’ policies altogether.

With this in mind, Renewvia teamed up with Baja Construction Co., Inc. to develop a series of reinforced steel structures equipped with solar photovoltaic panels that can quite literally weather even the toughest of storms.  For example, during the powerful May 8, 2017 hailstorm in Denver, which produced hailstones as big as three inches wide, only one panel was broken out of the 3,168 powering the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) main campus – coincidentally, NREL researchers are responsible for developing quality tests to ensure the durability of solar panels.