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  • Project Sunroof helps homeowners decide whether solar panels are a fit for their home.
  • It uses Google Earth data to calculate usable sunlight per year and provides an energy savings estimate.
  • It’s available in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and central California.

Google’s new tool, Project Sunroof, aims to help homeowners determine if solar panels are a good fit for a home by calculating the roof’s solar potential. The app uses high-resolution Google Earth data to calculate the usable sunlight per year and provides an estimate of the potential energy savings.

Simply enter an address and Project Sunroof calculates the number of hours of usable sunlight per year based on weather patterns and the total square feet available for solar panels, which is based on 3-D modeling of your roof and nearby trees. It also includes an estimated net savings and a list of (sponsored) solar providers.

You can even fine-tune the estimate by entering your average monthly electric bill. The project is currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area, central California and Greater Boston, Massachusetts.

The app was created by engineer Carl Elkin, who developed the tool as a 20 percent project, an internal initiative at Google that allows employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time on side projects.

I believe the next wave of real estate technology will focus on energy, making the data captured by connected home devices and the Internet of Things accessible.

A property details page on a real estate website currently includes data such as crime statistics, community information and taxes. I envision a property details page that also includes the cost of charging an electric vehicle or perhaps even displays the data recorded from a Nest thermostat. Project Sunroof validates this hunch.

The app is a natural addition to a real estate website, most of which already include Google Maps. Providing a buyer and/or seller with information regarding the investment of solar panels and potential cost savings presents real value, making Project Sunroof a perfect fit for the real estate industry.

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