Sky Factory to flip the switch on solar array

solar idealAn Iowa company is about to use the real sun as an ingredient in building its virtual skylights.

The Sky Factory, which manufactures simulated skylights designed to bring nature to the interior, installed 54 kilowatts of solar at its Fairfield, Iowa location. The solar photovoltaic array will provide 104 percent of the electricity needed to power the facility, said Sky Factory spokeswoman Sondra Ward.

“In general it just really reflects our values as a company,” Ward said.

The company makes digital skylights, which are frequently installed in hospitals, where they can bring a bit of nature inside. Research indicates that nature has a healing effect on people, Ward said.

The skylights also engender a sense of appreciation for nature, which goes hand-in-hand with protecting it.

She said Sky Factory spent a lot of time researching renewable energy after employee Jack Eastman, a long-time Sierra Club leader inspired everyone in the company to think more deeply about conservation. He was dubbed the company’s eco-conscience.

“In the Midwest, most people think of wind when they think of renewable energy,” Ward said.

But in doing research on renewable options, Ideal Energy approached Sky Factory and explained how a solar system could help the company reach its net-zero goals.

The solar array is completely installed now and the company will host a community-wide celebration for the flipping of the switch on June 7.

The event will be complete with the usual presentations that accompany an event like this one. But Sky Factory wanted to add something special.

Rather than flipping a switch, which something any one person could do, the company has set up an elaborate Rube-Goldberg-style contraption that will allow community members to participate in the flipping of the switch and offer up something a little more fun and exciting than the standard inauguration of a solar array.

“It’s exciting,” Ward said. “Because now our skies will be made with the sun.”