4 Reasons why Tesla’s New Solar Products Are Worth A Look 


The video included in this Bloomberg Technology article does a nice job summarizing the new products that make up the sun-to-vehicle energy plans resulting from Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, just approved by Tesla’s shareholders last month. This is the last piece of Tesla’s puzzle, creating a complete stand-alone renewable energy solution for modern homes. A few thoughts on impacts for the Naples community:

1. A Giant Step Forward Aesthetically 


For good reason, the focus of Tesla’s announcement has been on the new solar cellular tiles that look remarkably like the traditional versions of terracotta, slate, asphalt shingles as well as an interesting modern glass tile. If Tesla is able to follow through on its pricing projections and offer this product at a comparable price to traditional high-end roofing materials, with electricity as a bonus, it becomes worth considering for all our new construction. This would be a natural addition to the sophisticated electronic controls installed in many of our homes. Of course, we’ll also be watching to see if their durability claims hold up, an important consideration during hurricane season.

2. Powerful Battery Enables Backup Coverage During Power Outages


The new Tesla Powerwall 2 battery hasn’t received as much attention as the solar roof, but is nonetheless just as important an advancement. The Powerwall 2 has double the energy density of the previous version, to 14 kilowatt-hours of energy storage, a capacity much better suited to the needs of a typical American household; TreeHugger.com’s graphic of the amount of energy typically used by appliances puts that 14kWh in perspective.


The Powerwall 2 also includes a Tesla-made inverter, which allows for a more streamlined, less-expensive installation. As Electrek reports “At $5,500 including a ‘Tesla inverter’, it could easily end up being a game changer in the industry. Most residential systems today are offered for a similar price, but either have about half the energy capacity or they don’t have an integrated inverter.” They also agree that “The new Powerwall will also make a significant dent in the generator industry. It will be used in regions prone to power outages.”

We expect that the ability to replace a noisy, fossil-fuel generator with a slick, clean-energy solution for Naples’ many storm-driven power outages will be quite intriguing to many of our clients.

3. Integrated Energy System Offers New Zero Energy and Possibly Off Grid Options


Getting through the night or through a power outage is one goal, but what about those that strive to be truly energy neutral, or even off the grid? In a recent post about our Zero Energy Home prototype, we described a variety of energy, landscape, and water capture systems we could employ to reach this ZEH ideal. At first glance, Tesla’s integrated solar + storage system looks to be a promising new option. In particular, we’ll be watching to see if this system, possibly with multiple Powerwalls, can produce and store enough energy to be sufficient as a completely off the grid solution where necessary, like for those on Keewaydin Island.

If the delivered products match what’s been announced, especially in price, MJLA clients will have some nice new choices beginning in 2017.

MJLA Designs a Prototype Zero Energy Project

In each project it undertakes, Mark J. Leonardi Architect strives to incorporate creative, ecologically savvy components. Recently, we took our energy-conscious ideals a step further, developing a prototype of a Zero Energy Home. Our goal was to demonstrate that it’s possible to create a net zero, sustainable house design with the aesthetics and livability expected by those in the residential market of Naples.

Zero-Energy-Home-View I
Designed for a typical lot in the Downtown section of Olde Naples, this new home design features net zero energy consumption through the use of geothermal heating and cooling for both the residence and pool, photovoltaic energy production, solar hot water and energy recovery technologies. Additional features include rainwater collection cisterns for irrigation, xeriscape plantings, reclaimed and sustainable materials, as well as state-of-the-art insulation and ventilation systems.

Layout 1ZEH-View II

This single family home exemplifies a flexible, current approach to living by combining everyday functions such as living, dining, office and media spaces. Dividing elements, such as bi-fold or pivoting doors, can transform smaller spaces into larger gathering areas, and connect indoors to outdoors – as shown above between the master bedroom (7) and the terrace/pool (15/16) area. Overall, this residence is a performance-oriented building taking into consideration function, livability, and aesthetics.

Although only conceptual at this time, this prototype serves as a example for future sustainable, residential projects within the area, demonstrating what is possible with in the confines – and expectations – of the Naples community.

The Space In Between

Residual Space

MJLA challenges the conventional idea of the residence as one building and conceptually pulls it apart making it unique as well as site and client specific;  resulting in a new, more dynamic home site with multiple, faceted buildings collected to bring meaning to typically neglected space.  Utilizing residual space, or the spaces in between, for programmatic components such as entry, light transfer, circulation, and garden is how this is realized. This both creates and places transitions in between areas of a home that at one point could have been bland, block-like, and very front-to-back. Instead, these areas are seen as opportunities.

The choice of materials strengthens the seamless perception of the space between, thus making the interior and exterior residual spaces an integral part of the residence.  Taking these residual spaces and giving them life, transforms the residence into a much more open, place to place, room to room feeling that is evoked while living, walking through, and simply being a part of a home environment.

Architect’s Statement

There are alternatives to the dominant trend of Interior Design and Architecture that could add significant value to the profession.  These alternatives are an attempt to redefine an attitude that re-engages one into the process of design. We feel this attitude has been lost and become more about “building” VS “designing.”  It is our ambition to educate people on this premise and bring back the sense of professionalism that has been lacking over the past decade. Our intention is not to reinvent but rather re-establish an attitude in South Florida that is both eminent and relevant.