The Power of a Solar Canopy

Mike Slack
By Mike Slack, VP Canopy Design & Engineering

When it comes to building a business, your parking lot may be the least inspiring aspect or rank lowest on your priority list. But did you know it has the potential to generate clean energy for your operations with a solar canopy (also known as a solar carport canopy) that’s capable of offsetting up to 100% of your energy use? On top of that, a solar canopy can improve your customer experience by providing protection from the elements. And as an added bonus, it shows customers – 81% of whom feel strongly that companies have a responsibility to help improve the environment – that you’re considering more than just your bottom line in a highly visible and impressionable way.

Solar canopies are a no-brainer, but they’re also one of the most challenging and complex solar installations to design, which is why it’s so important to find the right developer to partner with.

The DSD difference

At DSD, we know no two parking lots are alike, which is why we have an entire solar canopy design build team dedicated to customizing each solar canopy project we take on. While most of the solar industry looks to outsource their solar canopy projects by hiring steel fabricators who use off-the-shelf designs, we do everything in-house. We have civil engineers and structural engineers on staff who design everything from start to finish for comprehensive site development. They take everything from architectural lighting and landscape architecture, down to stormwater drainage into account. Meanwhile, our account managers will work closely with you to make sure all of your needs are being communicated and met. And because we do everything in-house, we’re able to complete solar canopy projects for lower costs than had we purchased ready-made designs (that often don’t accommodate site needs in the first place).

A solar canopy can offset up to 100% of your energy use.

From the most convoluted sites to the simplest, whether you’re a commercial real estate business, school, municipality, or industrial site, we approach each project with the same level of standard and care. Overhead costs are allocated appropriately in relation to what the needs of the projects are. While we understand no two sites are the same and each will require a different execution strategy, we bring the same enthusiasm and drive to solve problems in ways others haven’t to every single solar canopy project.

Motivated to be innovative

As a customer-focused company, DSD strives to learn from every project we work on. In fact, the more complicated a solar canopy project, the more excited we get by the design challenge, and the bigger DSD’s canopy portfolio grows.

The majority of DSD’s patented technology has derived from solving a customer’s problem. For example, one of our most innovative designs stemmed from rain drops dripping down onto cars from solar panels. In this instance, rather than building a water-tight carport that would have added 30% to the project cost, we designed and built gutters capable of catching 80-90% of the water off the panels. This guttering design ultimately became a utility patent.

The process

Unlike other developers, DSD will be with you for the entirety of your project. Regardless of the complexity of your site, we’ll work within the existing landscape features and buildings (we don’t want your solar panels to get shaded, after all), navigate zoning laws and regulations, and optimize steel so it’s the lowest cost structure it can be with the maximum possibility for power production. Here’s what you can expect from the process:

Your dedicated DSD team will simplify the complexity of the process. From the beginning, we:


Guide you seamlessly through planning and zoning


Work with you to prep for a smooth and efficient installation


Support you through every step, to ensure efficiency and peace of mind

We’ll then streamline the development and site management process, to:


Minimize disruption to operations during construction


Ensure open/unblocked signage


Create clear paths to entrances and exits — to keep your staff & visitors safe


Leverage dedicated project managers to ensure efficiency

Most importantly, we’ll push the boundaries of what’s possible at your site to ensure you produce as much energy as possible with your system. Just as we did recently in White Plains, New York.

Case study

When the City of White Plains, New York presented a portfolio of nine sites they wanted to outfit with various types of solar including rooftops, ground mounts, and carports, we knew we had a challenge on our hands. And it was exciting. Many of these were sites no one would dream of putting solar on, including the most challenging site; an asphalt-covered landfill the city uses for maintenance equipment storage. The city wanted to optimize this space with more solar capacity without compromising the functionality of the space. Determined to meet the city’s needs, DSD designed a longspan solar canopy that doubles as covered storage.

In the initial bidding stages of the project, DSD’s nearest competitor bid 3.5 MW on the entire portfolio. We came in at 6.8 MW, and won it. Because of our confidence in the complexity of the project and our ability to employ the expertise of our specialized team and customized, innovative solutions, we were able to meet White Plains’ energy needs in a way that is highly functional, aesthetically pleasing for the community, and all at the right price. Best of all, this portfolio is helping the city meet their sustainability goals.

Let DSD design your next solar canopy project

For many developers, a solar carport canopy project is just a job. They outsource to fill the gaps and make promises during an RFP (which they sometimes can’t keep) and figure out the details later. At DSD, we’re committed to accelerating the deployment of renewables for the benefit of our clients (and the greater world) and as such, approach every unique project as an opportunity to work in alignment with this mission.

We have the experience, knowledge, ingenuity, and enthusiasm necessary to tackle any solar canopy project in a way that optimizes energy production without disrupting the architecture or landscape of the site. And we do it all in partnership with our customers.


Consider it like this: we’re not looking to build a house to sell; we’re building one to live in. That’s the amount of care and commitment DSD will put into your next solar canopy.

Take the first step.

Not sure how to get started? Our renewables experts are here to help. Reach out to us today.