The first phase of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s effort to transform Taliesin West into a net-zero energy-use facility has been completed, while construction on energy efficiency improvements continue. A new 250-KW solar photovoltaic power system, donated by Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc., was commissioned this week on the 75-year-old National Historic Landmark architectural campus.

The endeavour, dubbed Energizing Taliesin West, was sparked during an energy audit of the 500-acre property in early 2011 by Phoenix-based consultant Big Green Zero. It found that Taliesin West’s energy bills could be reduced by 51% via relatively inexpensive energy efficiency improvements to lighting, insulation and climate controls, while the balance of energy could be generated on site using a solar PV system.

“In the pursuit of energy efficiency, this is just the beginning,” says Bob Roth, CEO of Big Green Zero. “Over the next several years, the Energizing Taliesin West team will be installing and experimenting with additional energy efficiency technologies.”

Many local Arizona companies donated materials and labor. In addition to giving around 4,000 solar panels, First Solar also provided the engineering, procurement and construction services. The Phoenix office of Power-One donated a power inverter and the associated performance-monitoring equipment for the project. Other Phoenix area companies involved include Klondyke Construction, donating electrical construction services, Buesing Corp., providing structural post installation, OMCO solar offering panel-mounting structural materials, CLP Resources bringing the structural and modular installation labor and Rummel Construction performing site grading.

The ground-mounted PV system at Taliesin West is expected to displace more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Native cacti and other plant species which were removed during construction will be transplanted throughout the project site, and the entire site will be seeded to restore native vegetation.

“As we continue to move forward with this endeavor, we remain consistent with the values of Taliesin West and advancing the Foundation’s mission to preserve and expand the heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Sean Malone, CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, in a statement. “We will continue to educate and empower new generations of innovative thinkers to address the critical issues of sustainability and healthy living environments.”