Melink Solar: Spearheading the Solar Power Revolution

Solar Energy

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For the longest time, the prevailing narrative about renewable energy featured faulty technologies and high costs. In the absence of strict mandates and far-reaching policy changes, the chances for mass adoption seemed slim.

But now that these technologies have come of age, a new story is being written. The ecological advantages combined with the falling costs of installation makes solar PV a particularly attractive investment for companies to consider. Around the world, businesses, governments, and households are taking advantage of more reliable and cost-effective technologies that limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the right investment to make.  Think of it as a hedge against increasing electricity prices – buying vs. renting. Today, it is evident that solar PV (photovoltaic) projects pay back their initial cost through energy bill savings and solar incentives, proving to be an investment with above-average returns. 

For Steve Melink, Founder of Melink Corporation, his journey began in 1987, when he started performing HVAC testing and balancing across the nation. Little did he know that his humble start was going to lead to valuable transformation in the field of efficiency and clean energy solutions. While working, he noticed that there was a massive disconnect between people and the way their buildings operate.  “Buildings are like ice burgs,” explains Steve. “There are components that you can and cannot see.” Each of these components contributes to the health and functionality of occupants and employees, as well as the health of our environment. Steve’s company committed itself to achieving LEED Platinum EB (existing building) certification, and eventually strived for net-zero energy at their corporate headquarters back in 2010.

To achieve net-zero energy and offset their electrical load, the company installed a solar array on the rooftop of their first headquarter building in Cincinnati, Ohio.  While giving tours of their super-green building, visitors became fascinated by the idea that Melink could generate their own power onsite. 

So how did Melink get started in the solar industry?  Upon further investigation, Steve discovered that people had a desire to better understand the environmental impact and other underlying costs of operating their facilities. Business owners have an obligation to reduce the amount of energy they consume, and then supply the remaining with clean power.  “Conservation is the first and necessary step to minimize our carbon footprint and cut costs,” says Monica Niehaus of Melink Solar. “Layering in solar to then power our remaining energy needs will be crucial in decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Recognizing the need to bridge this gap for building owners, Steve launched Melink Solar & Geo, a renewable energy enterprise, which is today known for designing and building commercial-sized solar systems across the nation. Within the industry, they are considered an EPC, or an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction firm, deeply integrated in the solar power vertical and helping business owners make the transition to clean energy.

Steve Melink
Steve Melink

"Our mission is to change the world one building at a time by helping decision-makers implement energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions into their commercial facilities," affirms Steve.

Breaking barriers through Innovation

Since its establishment, Melink Solar has remained committed to challenging the status quo and breaking through barriers that have prevented humanity from harnessing the true potential of solar PV. With Innovation as one of their key values, Melink Solar feels it is their responsibility to educate building owners and push society forward in understanding what is often viewed as a complex transition to clean energy. Utilizing the best technology, “Our mission is to change the world one building at a time by helping decision-makers implement energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions into their commercial facilities,” affirms Steve. This means leaning into innovation and transitioning away from the energy source of the past – fossil fuels.

With 12 years of nationwide experience under their belts, Melink Solar is referred as the industry expert when it comes to ballasted and standing seam roof mounts, fixed-tilt and single axis tracker ground mounts, as well as parking canopies. By the end of 2021, Melink Solar will have installed over 100 MWs of solar capacity, making them the most experienced Ohio-based EPC in terms of MWs installed.

Melink thrives in designing and building solar projects from 100 kW to 5MWs with unrivaled customer service and quality. In addition to Innovation, Melink values Service Excellence and Integrity above all. “Every project is treated with utmost importance as we believe each customer opens the opportunity for a more sustainable future,” explains Seth Parker, VP and General Manager of Melink Solar. Through repeated customer projects, referrals, and extended partnerships it’s clear that Melink provides a good experience for clients.  “Transitioning to solar can be intimidating for those not familiar with the technology,” says Seth. “Our goal is to make our customers excited about taking part in the clean energy revolution. We want the transition to solar to be as seamless as possible for them.

Melink’s intention is to make solar power relevant and useful for everyone. The looming dangers of climate change means that every house, building and facility must make a speedy transition from conventional to clean energy. Melink Solar takes an adaptive approach that allows facilities to be creative when supplying their power with alternative energy sources. This means utilizing available space wherever possible.

Take the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for an example. A decade ago, they called on Melink Solar to install, at the time, one of the largest publicly accessible urban solar canopies in the nation over their parking lot. While sustainability played a large part in their decision to transition to renewable energy, the Zoo has realized a tremendous amount of marketing and PR benefits associated with the parking canopy. The 1.56-megawatt solar array generates 20% of the zoo’s power and helped the facility earn the designation of “Greenest Zoo in America.” Visitors enjoy parking underneath the shaded structure and can appreciate the clean power it generates. An educational kiosk at the entrance allows visitors to learn about the canopy’s production and other benefits provided by solar energy.

So, how do businesses ensure that their solar systems are built with durable materials and sourced from reliable manufacturers?  Melink Solar works directly with top suppliers to offer the most cost-effective solutions for their clients. Rather than buying materials from distributors, Melink Solar’s direct partnerships with manufacturers result in the most competitive pricing on panels, inverters, and racking. Melink Solar only uses Tier 1 Equipment, as defined by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, to ensure their suppliers are “bankable” and to instill confidence in their customers that the manufacturers will be around in 25+ years to honor their warranties.

A vertically integrated design and build firm, Melink Solar’s team is stacked with NABCEP certified installers, LEED-accredited professionals, detail-oriented project managers, and licensed engineers. Ask any customer Melink Solar has served – the knowledge and quality of work provided from beginning to end is unparalleled.  Oftentimes, the sales process can take well over a year as education plays a key role in helping business leaders transition to solar.

The field of solar PV solutions is continuously evolving. Advancements are being made every day, which can make it difficult for prospective customers to make an informative decision. To stay ahead of competition, Melink Solar & Geo is continuously researching and testing different solar PV systems at their own headquarters in Cincinnati.  They know the products and services they deliver inside and out.  “We have proven this technology works for our building,” adds Steve Melink, “and our bottom-line and employees are directly benefitting from these clean energy solutions.”

Leading by example

Melink’s campus in Cincinnati is an innovation center where learning and creativity is inspired. Clean energy solutions were tested in their green building construction to achieve the goal of Net Zero usage. Upon entering their quiet and peaceful headquarters, tucked away in Milford, is a 60-foot wind turbine, solar ground arrays and parking canopies, along with 63 electric vehicle charging stations to power their cars.  

HQ1 is the original building on Melink’s campus and served as the testing grounds for their green building construction. Since the largest energy loads in most commercial buildings are lighting, HVAC, and hot water, HQ1’s construction focused on how to minimize these energy drains. The building is classified as Net-Zero Energy, ENERGY STAR 99 Rated (only achieved by 1% of the population), and LEED Platinum-certified. Its progressive integration of conservation, efficiency, and renewable technologies make it one of the greenest buildings in the world.

HQ2, completed in late 2019, is the second building constructed on Melink’s campus. It features the latest technology in terms of window and door systems, a hybrid geothermal system, and highly insulated walls, as well as a bifacial solar PV parking lot canopy. It serves as a model for Zero-Energy Building (ZEB) for architects, engineers, and contractors to learn best practices and to prove ZEB construction can be mainstreamed. “Our goal is to show the world that new (and existing) buildings can be made Zero-Energy at a small cost premium of less than 10%,” Steve explains.

Melink walks the talk – and drives it too. Over 60% of employees drive an alternative-fuel vehicle, with a clear emphasis to fully transition to all electric vehicles (EVs) in the next few years. Melink provides a $7,500 incentive to its employees to purchase an EV – and now there are numerous Teslas at their office buildings and plants, parked underneath the solar parking canopies, powered and charged by clean energy.

 Leading the Revolution

Melink’s CEO announced the company’s 2025 Pledge on Earth Day 2020 to inspire individual accountability for walking the talk on their vision and mission. By 2025, every Melink employee shall select the clean power option from his/her utility, and every employee shall drive an electric car using clean energy. To further leverage this pledge, they ask that other local, regional, and national partners and stakeholders join in hopes for a brighter future.

For Founder Steve Melink, solar and clean energy is an opportunity for businesses, municipalities, and schools alike to step in and make their contribution towards repairing the damage done to our planet. “Billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere every year as a result of burning coal and relying heavily on oil and gas. Human activity is producing greenhouse gas emissions at a record high, with no signs of slowing down. If we don’t act today, everything we have ever cared about will no longer exist,” Steve adds, urgently.

While science tells us that climate change is irrefutable, it also tells us that it is not too late to stem the tide. This will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society — how we grow food, use land, transport goods, and power our facilities and economy.

While society has contributed to climate change, new and efficient technologies can help us reduce net emissions and create a sustainable way of living. Readily available solutions already exist for more than 70% of today’s emissions. In many places, renewable energy is now the cheapest energy source and electric cars are poised to become mainstream as the demand for EVs rise.

For Steve and his company, the time to act is now. “At Melink, our team will continue to inspire, educate, and innovate until our desired result is achieved,” emphasizes Steve. And that desired result is a world where new technological solutions enable humanity to transition to a more resilient source of energy. “The team’s vision is to change one building at a time, which will create a more sustainable world for ourselves, our children, and future generations,” adds Steve.

Melink continues to welcome scheduled tours, and invites universities and business groups alike to visit their campus to see the future of green buildings.

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