Jobs, Choice and Savings in South Carolina’s Solar Future

solar-roof-original1-300x220With the passage of the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act (the “Solar Energy bill”) last year, South Carolina became the region’s leader in adopting solar service for its residents and was immediately put in a very strong position to attract major players in the home solar service industry.

One such player, Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the U.S., today announced that it will open a local office and warehouse facility in Columbia – a move it anticipates will bring at least 50 permanent jobs in the first year alone.

Initially, Sunrun will offer homeowners the option to purchase their solar system or finance it through a third party loan it arranges. Later this summer, they will also offer a lease whereby homeowners can simply pay a fixed monthly amount to Sunrun, reducing their home electric bill by 20 percent on average.

“I’m pleased that South Carolina is leading the Southeast in encouraging solar adoption,” said Lynn Jurich, chief executive officer of Sunrun, “We look forward to establishing a presence in the Palmetto State and giving residents the choice to power their homes with solar while reducing their electric bills.”

“We celebrate Sunrun’s announcement and its job-creating investment for the Midlands,” said Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina. “Sunrun’s expansion into South Carolina is a testament to the work our state’s doing to create the most competitive environment for business development in the country.”




South Carolina’s Lien Law Provisions Upheld

In its decision to dismiss the findings of a lower court in a recent mechanics’ lien case filed by an architect against his client for non-payment of architectural fees, the SC Supreme Court upheld an important provision of the SC mechanics’ lien law.

The client’s attorneys had argued that “construction administration does not constitute an architect’s labor” under the lien law, and therefore since the architect filed the lien within 90 days of CA and not within 90 days of completing construction documents, the architect was not entitled to place a lien on the client’s property.

Needless to say AIASC found this argument troubling, and prepared an amicus brief defining an architect’s “labor” to include contract (construction) administration per South Carolina law, and regulations of the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners.  So we were pleased to learn just this week of the Supreme Court’s decision and its reinforcement of our practice act.

Many thanks go to Miles Glick, AIA, 1993 AIASC President, for bringing this very important case to our attention, and to Lawrence Melton and Brian Autry, attorneys at Nexsen Pruet, for preparing the amicus brief on our behalf.

Big Week for Solar Energy in South Carolina


Solar panel installation at the Columbia Museum of Art in 2010.


Last week both the SC House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed S.1189, the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act, otherwise known as the Solar Energy bill. This bill, which includes solar leasing, net metering, and an optional distributed energy resource program, will make solar energy available to residential, business and non-profit customers in a new and affordable way, according to the Conservation Voters of South Carolina. 

Click here for Sammy Fretwell’s excellent article on this legislation in The State Newspaper: solar-shining-after-dark-ages 


Governor Haley Signs H.3592 Into Law

This week saw a major victory for the South Carolina sustainable design and construction industry when Governor Nikki Haley signed SC House Bill 3592 into law on Monday.

After many months and many maneuvers to turn H.3592 from a LEED elimination bill into a bill that maintains the use of green building rating systems as required in the original Energy Independence & Sustainable Construction Act of 2007, Senator Paul Campbell amended the bill to require the adoption of LEED and Green Globes by reference – which allows projects to be registered under the new version of either rating system if the older version sunsets – and to establish a new advisory committee under the Office of the State Engineer.  The Energy Independence and Sustainable Construction Advisory Committee will be comprised of design and construction professionals and manufacturers as well as representatives from the state’s higher education agencies.

This new committee will review upcoming versions of LEED and Green Globes and make recommendations to the State Budget & Control Board, soon to be the State Fiscal Accountability Authority.

The committee will also be charged with reviewing possible amendments to the 2007 law regarding “payback” requirements on all state projects that employ either green building rating system.


Patterson Hall on USC’s Columbia Campus, which received a LEED Gold rating for the renovation and addition designed by the Garvin Design Group.

AIA South Carolina worked with USGBC-SC, CAGC Building Division, and the SC Council of Engineering and Surveying Societies to ensure design and construction professionals continue to have available the use of green building rating systems on projects that are required by law to achieve certain energy efficiency and sustainable design thresholds.

Our sincere thanks go to Senator Campbell, and to Rep. Bill Sandifer who sheparded the bill back through the SC House to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

AIASC Receives National Award

2014Grassroots4On Friday, March 21 during the Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference Awards Luncheon, AIASC was honored with a 2014 Component Excellence Award for Public Affairs and Communications Outstanding Overall Program for its Kids In Architecture workshops held during the month of October in children’s museums throughout South Carolina. Champions and volunteers from each of the six local AIASC Sections worked closely with Lynn Craig, FAIA, RIBA and Clemson School of Architecture faculty and students to create interactive workshops that expose children to the world of architecture and design. This prestigious award was conferred by the Public Affairs & Communications Awards Jury upon AIA South Carolina,

“For heightening public awareness that an appreciation of the power of design can begin with children. Working with architecture students in Genoa, Italy, and Children’s Museums in South Carolina, the chapter created collaborative interactive workshops that tapped into a child’s innate creativity. In so doing, AIA South Carolina innovated a unique learning approach that gave to the children of South Carolina and their parents access to the magic of design and the joy of giving shape to their dreams.”

2014Grassroots6 Lynn Craig, FAIA,RIBA holding the award

“AIA South Carolina worked closely with the Children’s Museums and Clemson University to develop a workshop series for children. The program engaged school children at a statewide level. The impact of this program will be seen for years to come. Kudos, AIA South Carolina! – 2014 Public Affairs & Communications Awards Jury

Higher Education Moratorium

As president of the American Institute of Architects South Carolina, I hear regularly from our members about the grim economic environment throughout the state.  The Governor’s idea to solve the state budget woes and the rising cost of college tuition with a moratorium on construction is short-sighted, especially since the universities have said that the lack of state funding, not building projects is the cause of rising tuitions.

Typically, the construction industry accounts for nine percent of the national gross domestic product and the state of South Carolina needs to do everything possible to put our large construction industry back to work. My husband and I are both architects and have had our firm for 21 years. In good years we pay five figures in South Carolina income tax, in 2009 we paid $44 and it looks about the same for 2010. If all the architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors and suppliers in South Carolina were fully employed, it would generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue and the state could appropriate more money for higher education to reduce tuition costs.

The fact is there is no better time for building projects: Interest rates are at an all-time low; construction companies are eager to work at very competitive prices; our state economy badly needs a stimulus; and fully employing our construction industry workers will boost state income tax receipts. Every $1 billion spent on building projects increases the state’s gross domestic product by almost $2.3 billion; creates 24,000 jobs with $720 million in personal income. We need jobs – not moratoriums!