SES Projects: Kips Bay Tower Condominiums

Location: Manhattan, NY
Sector: Multiunit Residential
System Size: 54.28 kilowatts (kW) System Installed: 2008
Module: SunPower
Inverter: SunPower
Annual Energy Output: 57,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh)
Emissions Offset:
Carbon Dioxide: 72,960 lb/yr
Nitrogen Oxides: 64.98 lb/yr
Sulfur Dioxide: 0.342 lb/yr


Kips Bay Towers is a unique place for New Yorkers to call home. Designed by I. M. Pei and built in 1961, the 20-story, cast-in-place, exposed-concrete towers stand as a model for innovation and forward-thinking building design. So, it was not a surprise when the Kips Bay residents were ready to install a solar PV system on their roofs.

The Challenge: Overcoming Physical Obstacles to Deliver Results

Due to the amount of shade cast by parapet walls and spatial limitations on the roofs themselves, SES advised Kips Bay management that installing the PV system on top of the rooftop bulkheads would be the most viable and effective solution, though not the easiest.

“Installing solar panels on the bulkhead of a 20-story building in the middle of Manhattan presents obvious physical challenges. One of the largest issues was overcome by finding a code-compliant interconnection point up at the top of the building, rather than 20 stories down in the basement,” recalled SES President David Buckner of the customized design, with each tower hosting its own solar array and net meter.

And while SES was installing the Kips' PV system, a separate contracting team was completing work on a re-roofing project. “We were on top of the bulkheads and they were working simultaneously below us on the roofs,” Buckner remembered. “Overall,” he said, “this job was a success because of the concerted effort of everyone involved. Our crews worked together, even sharing a hoist, and both projects went smoothly.”

The SES Experience

“It was a pleasure working with SES,” Yvette Diaz-Moreno, Senior Property Manager for Kips Bay Towers added, “They kept us informed, assisted with a Q&A packet for residents, and helped get the community on board with the project. Unit owner approval was necessary for this, and there was some resistance. People were concerned about the investment and the payback period.” Many of those concerns were eased, however, by the availability of considerable rebates and incentives that made 'going green' a rather wise investment for Kips Bay. SES did a phenomenal job. We received no complaints, and no interruptions whatsoever when SES did the electrical turnover, which was amazing!”

Click here for short video about this project.

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