The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced plans to install rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems at its medical facilities in Loma Linda, California, and Dallas.

With large amounts of sunshine available year-round, plenty of roof space, and an attractive state-level incentive in California, the Loma Linda and Dallas sites quickly rose to the top of the VA’s list of candidate locations for PV pilot projects.

“Hospitals are big users of energy, so whatever the VA can do to become a good green neighbor will benefit all of us, both in the short and the long terms,” said Dr. James B. Peake, secretary of veterans affairs.

The VA has even more ambitious plans. As part of a comprehensive department--wide energy-management plan, last year, the VA screened its major facilities for not only PV potential, but the potential to use wind, geothermal and biomass energy, and to use solar energy for water heating, as well. The evaluation helped the VA identify 16 candidate sites for solar PV projects, 15 for solar water heating, six for wind and two for direct geothermal energy systems.

Solar hot water energy system work is underway at the Dallas facility and at the VA’s West Los Angeles medical center. Two facilities in Arizona have added solar water heating to the list of energy-efficient measures they plan to implement.

The VA plans to award a contract for a wind energy pilot project at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn., by the end of June and a contract for a geothermal energy pilot project at the Boise, Idaho, VA Medical Center by the end of September. Both the wind and geothermal systems will be installed by September 2009.