Feb. 21 2011 12:00 AM

4720 Ballard Road, Lansing


Property: 4720 Ballard Road, Lansing
Assessed value: $45,200
Owner: Zachary Foster
Owner says: Could not be reached for comment

A house
fire is a serious matter with potentially expensive implications. Yet
4720 Ballard Road, which sits on an acre of property northeast of the
Jolly and Waverly roads intersection, has sat dilapidated since at
least April 2009. An inspection notice from that time and a red tag
decorate the boarded up front door. Long grass and broken fencing hug
the garage in the backyard. A peek inside reveals insulation hanging
from the ceiling and a rubbish-covered floor.

— Andy Balaskovitz

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Roof damage is an inevitable outcome of a house fire. This house on Ballard has suffered an extensive fire that significantly damaged the roof. It is an excellent opportunity to not only replace the roof, but to make the dwelling more clean, green and energy efficient with sustainable upgrades. The home’s unobstructed roof slope oriented to the south is ideal for incorporating photovoltaics that include either solar panels or the less conspicuous solar shingles.

In the simplest terms, photovoltaics means electricity from the sun, or the direct conversion of light to electricity.

Sounds wonderful, right? But think that solar energy really only works in warm climates like California or Arizona? Afraid Michigan’s long winters prohibit the use of photovoltaics? Not so.

Michigan is the perfect place for photovoltaic use. Cold weather doesn’t adversely affect solar collection. In fact, photovoltaics are more efficient on cooler days than warm days. But isn’t Michigan, especially Lansing, too overcast? Again, not so. Photovoltaics collect solar energy everyday — even overcast days.

That being said, photovoltaic placement is incredibly important. They must be unobstructed and oriented to the south at the correct angle to maximize solar collection. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean your property must be devoid of trees. Just make sure that any low-hanging branches that could obstruct solar collection or would damage the solar panels are cleared away. Trees are also helpful for reducing energy use in the house. Trees located at the northwest corner protect the house from the freezing cold northwest winds in winter months. In addition, trees shade the house in the summer, cooling it and thus reducing energy consumption.

In the event the photovotaics don’t collect enough solar energy to meet your needs, most residential homes with photovotaics are connected to the grid. This is especially true of older houses outfitted with photovotaics. Whatever energy needs are not met by photovoltaics, being connected to the grid picks up the slack. This also allows extra energy produced by photovoltaics to be sold — allowing your house to produce money for you.