The recently renovated Maverick building, which now offers multi-family residential housing, will be the first apartment complex in downtown proper to utilize solar power.

The City’s Historic and Design Review Commission by consent agenda Wednesday approved a proposal to install a solar panel system atop the roof of the nearly-century-old high-rise at 606 N. Presa St.

Developer David Adelman and his company, AREA Real Estate, opened the doors to the new Maverick in early May following an exhaustive rehabilitation.

Adelman and his partners used Build San Antonio Green’s certification process to restore the Maverick, including eco-friendly technologies such as NEST smart thermostats and LED lighting throughout the 86-unit complex.

The Maverick is joining a small yet growing group of downtown-area buildings using solar power. That group includes the Bexar County Adult Detention Center facility, the Hipolito Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, and the Lake|Flato Architects office.

Other buildings near downtown, such as the River House Apartments, Overland Partners office, the Alamo Beer Company brewery, and LocalSprout’s Food Hub, also use solar power.

Local company Go Smart Solar will install the solar panels at the Maverick building.

Jason Pittman, the company’s president and co-founder, said including solar power is a natural next step in the integration of energy-efficient technologies at the building.

The system is already designed, but Go Smart Solar has to wait for CPS Energy to approve the plans and specifications. Pittman said he expects the panels to be installed in roughly two weeks and activated by the end of August, adding that the solar panels will help power the elevators as well as the rooftop signage.

“CPS Energy does have a special set of rules for installing solar on the downtown grid because [the grid] is underground,” he explained.

Pittman described the panel system as being compact with 20 modules, which are assembled by Mission Solar Energy. The system is sized just right for its purpose, he said.

“The smaller the system, the [worse] the economics are,” he added.

Pittman said the dropping costs of solar power systems have sparked greater interest from a variety of users in the last few years.

“If you look at the solar market even three years ago, our customers were interested in environmental benefits,” he said. “Our clients are now more interested in the financial returns.”

Pittman said local developers such as Adelman understand the potential for high returns on investment by including sustainable practices in their projects.

“If you have a big project and have enough roof space and you can offset 50% of your load, you can get a return on that capital in less than five years,” Pittman added.

Pittman also said lengthy equipment warranties and minimal operation and maintenance costs over the years are alluring, too.

City staff agreed with all aspects of the solar installation proposal, save for a request that the system be set up in a way where it is not visible to the public right-of-way.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.