Evan Thompson / The Record — A study by a Freeland engineering consulting group revealed that City Hall’s roof is overstressed and undersized, and unable to accommodate the addition of solar panels.

Study scrubs plans for solar panels on Langley city hall

An effort to make Langley City Hall more green-friendly with the installation of solar panels has been called off.

City Public Works Director Stan Berryman said that a structural analysis conducted by Freeland-based Davido Consulting Group, Inc. found that the south-facing portions of City Hall’s roof’s “hip ridge members are significantly overstressed and under-sized.” The analysis, which was required for a state Department of Commerce energy efficiency and solar grant the city sought, also said there were significant unknowns in the analysis, such as the species and grade of the roof framing members, as well as the location and sustainability of interior bearing walls supporting the roof.

The 20.7 kilowatt solar system would have helped to save around 25 percent of the city’s energy output, Berryman said. He added that to fix the roof would be too costly for what the city has in its budget and clearly “beyond what we can do in the short term.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Berryman said. “…It would have been positive over a few years.”

“We’ll have to go back to square one and see if there’s any other opportunities that are green,” he added.

City Hall was built in 1948. Berryman said it was typical for buildings of that age — nearly 70 years old — to be in City Hall’s condition and that the building is still safe.

“It can’t support any additional load,” Berryman said.

Berryman estimated the project would have cost about $60,000.

“I’m glad the requirement of the grant was to get this analysis,” Berryman said. “At first, I thought, ‘This shouldn’t be a problem.’ But, boy, I’m glad we did.”

Mayor Tim Callison said Langley is “always” looking for ways to reduce its energy output as is required in its comprehensive plan. Callison said an example of this effort includes an annual water reduction plan, which included a challenge to see which resident could save the most water. Langley resident Ron Nilson won the 2016 Water Saver Challenge.

The idea to install solar panels was first proposed to the city by Langley resident and environmental activist Chris Korrow. Korrow, who has lived in a solar powered homes for the past 30 years, said he wanted to see Langley stay true to its progressive nature and become completely energy independent.

“I’ve been wanting to get solar panels on City Hall for the last four or five years,” Korrow said. “I finally decided that somebody’s got to do it; I guess it’s got to be me.”

Korrow said the solar panels would have been clearly visible for any passersby walking around downtown Langley and that it could have had an “immeasurable” impact on “how much it would promote what our town stands for.”

While Korrow thought it was unfortunate that city hall could not accommodate the solar panels, he is currently mulling over new ideas and ways for Langley to become more green-friendly.

“It was really nice working with the city,” Korrow said. “They were really enthusiastic about it and we’re really grateful.”

“It got something moving toward it, so I feel good about it,” he added.