Brazee Street Studios installing innovative tubular solar panels

The idea was modest:  local artist and Oakley business owner Sandra Gross dreamed about opening a glass studio that could also offer educational opportunities in kiln-formed glass making to the Cincinnati community.  As that dream has materialized though, things have become increasingly more complex and interesting.

In 2009 Gross began rehabilitation on a 21,000 square-foot industrial space in Oakley that was to house Brazee Street Studios - fittingly named after the street on which it is located.  The work lasted the better part of four months and continues to this day with small projects around the facility.  The net result is15 artist studios that house art companies like HaloMiner, a school of glass that includes a warm glass research center, and gallery One One which will open on April 30.

Gross has been working closely with Leah Busch -  Brazee Street Studios' managing director, gallery director, and instructor - to take the vision a step further by applying for LEED Silver certification on the renovated space.  One of the major elements to help reach the certification is an innovative cylindrical solar panel system that is being installed on the building's roof.

"This is a brand new technology that is more efficient," described Busch.  "The roof is lined with a reflective material and these solar panels are able to pick up the solar energy directly from the sun and what is reflected from the roof."

The ability to pick up diffused and direct sunlight is not the only benefit of these solar panels. Busch says they are also less likely to be picked up by wind and are less prone to be blocked by accumulated snow.

Brazee Street Studios has tapped Ohio-based Dovetail Solar & Wind to install the system.  Typically, Dovetail's work on cylindrical solar tubes has been in California - the Brazee Street Studios project is the first of its kind in Ohio.

"We're pretty sure we will be able to run all of our kilns on the power provided by the solar panels," said Busch.  "Any additional power generated will be used to power the rest of the energy needs at the building."

The public will have a chance to check out the new Oakley arts anchor on Friday, April 30 when they open gallery One One (map).  The gallery opening will occur in conjunction with Oakley After Hours and will take place from 7pm to 9pm.  The free event will showcase the work of local artists and also include refreshments.

"It's almost like a life dream come true for Sandy," said Busch.  "We realizing both the education mission and our dedication to green construction and ecological conservation at Brazee Street Studios."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
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