Faq’s

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What is SolTerra?

SolTerra is a sustainability-focused real estate development and services firm reconnecting people to nature. We envision a future in which everyone in the world is able to live a sustainable life, more connected to nature. The company is making a difference with a growing portfolio of some of the most forward thinking mixed-use buildings in the Pacific Northwest – all targeting LEED Platinum certification.

How did the company start?

SolTerra owns, designs, builds and manages sustainable mixed-use residential and commercial structures in the Pacific Northwest. SolTerra was originally founded by Brian Heather in 2008 as a residential solar, living wall and green roofing company. SolTerra Systems is known as one of the top green designers in the region.

Where is the company located?

We are headquartered in Seattle.

How is SolTerra able to build these high-efficient, sustainable apartments?

SolTerra builds sustainable structures efficiently. We achieve this through the combination of responsibility and control that is derived through our build and development model and the creation of proprietary software and innovative construction means and methods. SolTerra's construction team creates unique buildings in urban environments that enables people to connect with nature each and every day.

What is SolTerra Systems?

SolTerra Systems provides people with the most cost-effective solar installations, living walls and sustainable green roofs throughout Oregon and Washington. We are an award-winning, rapidly growing team of talented individuals. Several of our products, such as VeraWall, have patents or are patent-pending.

How does solar power work?

Solar panels collect sun rays and convert them to an electrical current. Solar electricity is what is called DC current and our homes are run off of AC current, so an inverter is needed to switch the DC to AC. After the inverter the electricity is connected through a breaker on the electrical panel in the home. If the home needs the electricity, it will be consumed on site. If there is excess, it will be fed back to the utility grid, the meter will run backwards, and the power goes back to the utility.

Why should I invest in solar power for my home?

There are many reasons to invest in solar! Solar is a sustainable form of electricity, as the sun does not have a limited capacity. It is a great technology to make use of otherwise unusable space ie- rooftops, awnings etc. It is a great way to gain independence from a utility and to hedge against future rate increases. Solar power also contributes to national energy independence. It is a great investment in your home and your community and has a positive impact. It also can be a great fuel source for an EV or plug in hybrid. The list goes on…

How much money will I save with a solar power system?

It depends on the size of your system. When SolTerra works with a home or business owner, we create customized proposals that will specifically show short term incentives and long term savings. There are different types of panel manufacturers and different incentive structures depending on location, so savings will vary on multiple factors. Our average solar installation will cover anywhere from 20% to 100% of an average home’s electric consumption.

How long does an installation take?

Solar panels are warranted for 25 years and have a life expectancy of 30 to 50 years. The inverter life expectancy depends on the inverter technology. Most inverters have 10 year warranties and as long as the inverter is a high quality manufacturer, life expectancy on the inverter is 10 – 15 years. There are several micro inverter technologies that offer 25 year warranties. For SolTerra, the specification of the inverter is custom to each customer as well.

Are all solar panels the same?

Definitely not! Many people compare the wattage of panels and assume that all 280 watt panels are equal. The quality of the solar cells, as well as the manufacturing process, is very important in solar panel output. In the end, our customers care about the kWh (kilowatt hour) production of their system, not the name plate rating, because the kWh’s are what equate to environmental and financial impact.

How long will my solar electric system last?

Solar panels are warranted for 25 years and have a life expectancy of 30 to 50 years. The inverter life expectancy depends on the inverter technology. Most inverters have 10 year warranties and as long as the inverter is a high quality manufacturer, life expectancy on the inverter is 10 – 15 years. There are several micro inverter technologies that offer 25 year warranties. For SolTerra, the specification of the inverter is custom to each customer as well.

Why choose SolTerra over other companies?

SolTerra is a key player in the Pacific Northwest solar market. We have been installing custom solar since 2008 and have seen significant growth each year. A high percentage of our new clients are referrals from past customers, which is a testament to both our quality and customer experience. In addition, SolTerra is a diversified company. Not only do we design and install solar energy systems, we also install green roof and living wall systems, and we are a fully-licensed electrical contractor. We have expanded into complete building design and development, which gives our company financial independence from potential changes in the solar market. We will be able to service our clients well beyond any incentive end dates.

What is a living wall?

A living wall is an internal or external vertical garden. SolTerra uses an in house developed and patented system called VeraWall, an innovative modular, lightweight system, to install turn key living wall systems.

What are the benefits to creating a living wall for my home or business?

There are many benefits to living walls, including making use of an empty space, improved air quality, noise reduction and building protection. Read more here - http://solterrasystems.com/living-walls/benefits/

How does a living wall work?

Living walls incorporate plants with little or no soil placed in pockets attached to a support structure. The roots of the wall eventually expand out of the pocket and the geo-textiles become interwoven with the roots of the plants. Irrigation is built into the structure of the living wall system for interior walls and for some exterior walls.

What is a green roof?

A green roof, often referred to as living roofs, garden roofs, or eco-roofs, are essentially a roof that is in part, or completely covered with a growing medium and vegetation. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, green roofs also provide a number of money saving and environmental benefits.

Why should I consider installing a green roof for my home or business?

There are many reasons to install a green roof. Some of the most common reasons for a green roof include storm water management and mitigation, longer roof life, and creating a more beautiful and usable roof space. Read more here - http://solterrasystems.com/green-roofs/

What type of plants are in a green roof?

A green roof can accommodate any type of plant, as long as the initial design allows for it. Larger plants require greater growing media (soil) depths. The most common green roof will include sedums grasses and wildflowers.

How does a green roof work?

A green roof consists of a waterproof membrane, an inorganic layer for drainage and separation, and an organic layer of growing media and plants. The design of a green roof is very important for the longevity of the roof and the composition of the growing media is the most important piece of the design.

What is SolTerra Cities?

SolTerra Cities is designing and building beautiful, super-green, mixed-use apartments in urban environments. Our buildings connect people to nature, build community and create long-term, positive impact on our planet.

What is different about SolTerra properties?

SolTerra is rethinking how “green” apartments are built. From the day we begin designing a structure, we focus on sustainability. We’re passionate about bringing nature to the urban environment, with the ultimate goal of creating a lasting impact that reduces our carbon footprint. By designing each building to meet stringent environmental criteria, we ensure the highest level of quality and sustainability in our buildings. We are building a legacy with properties that care for our planet and people.

What does LEED Platinum mean?

LEED refers to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, which is a green building certification program that verifies a building or neighborhood’s green features—everything from energy efficiency and water conservation to non-toxic materials and access to daylight. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED Platinum is the highest, most efficient standard a building can meet. SolTerra targets LEED Platinum for all its new apartment buildings to maximize health and financial benefits for tenants. On average, platinum buildings consume 30% less energy, have 15 – 20% lower operating costs and have 27% higher occupant satisfaction than average buildings.

How are you able to build green, affordable apartments?

We reach unparalleled efficiency through managing the “end-to-end” process of the entire capital development, design, build, and management of SolTerra properties. SolTerra Cities provides a tremendous payback for the environment, society and our investors.

Where are you building these energy efficient apartments?

Today, we have more than 12 properties in Portland and Seattle. One building is fully leased, another one is about to open and others are at various stage of the design process.

How can I rent a SolTerra apartment?

The Woodlawn and Brooklyn Yard, both located in Portland, are currently available for rent. Cove, located in Seattle, will be available late Spring 2017. Contact leasing@solterra.com to schedule a tour or be placed on a waiting list for our apartments as they become available.

How many properties do you own?

You can find a list of our projects underway at www.solterra.com/cities.

How can I invest in SolTerra?

If you are an accredited investor interested in joining our sustainable approach to urban living, you can contact James Wong at jwong@solterra.com.

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