Mazda North America's R&D facility here sports rooftop solar modules.

IRVINE, CA—Mitsubishi Electric‘s photovoltaic modules are now powering automotive research and development at Mazda North America’s research & development facility here. The diversified global electronics manufacturer, which has been in the solar business for 40 years, has supplied Mazda with 1222 PV modules for a 317kW solar electric system that is expected to deliver half of the facility’s power needs, while cutting its electric bill in half.

Mazda’s PV system was installed by Sherman Oaks-based Sun Integration. The clean energy produced over the system’s expected lifespan of 25 years will prevent an estimated 18.6 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This is equivalent to the emissions resulting from burning 19,625 barrels of oil. The project was financed in part by the federal business energy investment tax credit and the California Solar Initiative rebate.

According to Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO for Mazda North American Operations, “Diversifying our energy sources and using them efficiently is part of Mazda’s environmental charter to maintain harmony with nature in our business activities worldwide. In addition, as a result of powering this building with solar, we can direct our utility-bill savings toward further investment in automotive research and development.”

As reported in February 2012, Mazda acquired the Irvine complex, which contains three buildings, for $27.8 million from EFT Holdings. The 155,499-square-foot R&D facility includes 1424 McGaw, 1444 McGaw and 1421 Reynolds.

Solar initiatives are fostering a variety of “green” actions in California, in particular. As reported last week, the SBA Green Program can qualify borrowers for $5.5 million per project for “green” property improvements, an increase of $500,000 from the standard SBA 504 loan. This is good news for owners of existing buildings, which are a focus for energy-efficient practices, according to Peter Belisle, southwest market director at JLL. In an earlier story, Belisle emphasized the importance of spreading awareness to existing building owners, whose properties make up 97% of the total building stock. There are low-to-no cost initiatives these owners can make, but for larger green renovations, the SBA Green Program is a great alternative.