A solar developer with significant success developing rooftop solar arrays in the New Jersey Community Solar Program sought GZA’s assistance to identify potentially suitable landfills, brownfields, or other known contaminated sites to expand into ground-mounted solar arrays. With over 13,500 potential sites in New Jersey, the developer knew they needed an automated way to narrow their list.


Using publicly available data, GZA developed a GIS-based solar site suitability model as an ESRI Web App. The App provided both pre-sorted and filtered sites based on the Client and NJ Community Solar preferences for parcels that were at least 15 acres after removing:

  • Steep slopes
  • Wetland and vernal pool areas
  • Rare species areas
  • Contained some impervious cover

The WebApp also provided the Client the ability to add additional filters themselves and select and sort by data attributes such as municipalities, counties, or utility service areas. The WebApp provided a calculated distance to the nearest substation along with a direct link to the property card, and because these are primarily contaminated sites, a link to the NJ Dataminer website where the site cleanup records could be accessed.


GZA’s knowledge of available databases and data analysis expertise helped the Client quickly cull a list of 13,500 properties to 432 sites likely to be suitable for solar development. The WebApp provided a user-friendly interface that could be customized to ask and answer new questions about the data to more fully investigate a potential site before contacting a property owner or manager.