UW-Solar Life Sciences Building

Executive Summary:

UW-Solar is a student-led organization working with architecture firm Perkins+Will to install building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) on the new Life Sciences Building of the University of Washington Seattle campus. The intended installation will serve both as an ancillary source of electrical power and a heat gain control measure on the building envelope. The BIPV panels will also be highly visible and showcase UW as a steward in sustainable construction.

Student Involvement:

Students from the UW-Solar group, consisting of both students enrolled in a College of Built Environments studio and student volunteers, will be directly involved with the project. The students currently involved with UW-Solar range from undergraduate freshmen to Ph.D. candidates, and come from the UW Colleges of Engineering, Business, Built Environments, and Environmental Sciences. Students will lead the feasibility study and present options and recommendations to Perkins+Will. Students will also work with Perkins+Will throughout the project, allowing them to become involved in a professional setting, working on project development, design, and construction management during the installation.

Education & Outreach:

The BIPV of the Life Sciences Building will be placed on vertical glass fins on the building’s southwest facing facade. The solar array will be highly visible to building occupants, pedestrians along the Burke-Gilman Trail, and commuters traveling along NE Pacific Street. Representatives from UW Facilities supported the installation for this reason during design review meetings in December, citing the ability of this project to showcase the University of Washington as a steward in sustainability.


In addition to this inherent visibility, UW-Solar plans to use events and public displays on campus to showcase information about the project. This will communicate the impact of local clean power and raise awareness within the community about energy conservation and renewable energy production. Campus outreach will also include information dissemination through UW student organizations devoted to sustainability, clean energy, and green buildings.

Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
Project Longevity:

The design of the BIPV is intended to last the life of the building and does not require much maintenance. Maintenance includes washing of the fins and checking to whether the equipment is still operational. As part of the agreements we are establishing with the stakeholders, we will be fine tuning the operation and maintenance plan and policy for the installation and determine who will fund the maintenance if any money is required. Listed below are those we have been working with throughout the initial phases of this project: University of Washington - College of Arts & Sciences The Life Sciences Building will be the new home of the UW Biology Department. Thus, the College of Arts & Sciences has a direct stake in the buildings development, and have been represented by Steve Majeski (Associate Dean) at design review meetings. Project Approval Form Attached. University of Washington - Major Capital Projects This project requires the direct approval of from the UW Capital Projects group. UW-Solar has presented proposals to the Capital Projects group, and has been in contact with Steve Tatge (Director), Troy Stahlecker (Senior Project Manager), and Jon Lebo (Director). We have verbal confirmation from all three of these stakeholders at our first stakeholder meeting at the end of Dec. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for them to turn in their forms. As soon as we have them in hand, we will send them to Molly @ CSF. Perkins+Will - Architecture and Design Firm UW-Solar has been in collaboration with Project Architect, Devin Kleiner, throughout the last several months. (We felt as an outside consultant did not need to sign a project approval form. If this is not the case, we would be happy to provide one.) NOTE: We have uploaded our formatted budget to the Project Approval Forms section.

Environmental Problem:

UW-Solar requests $7,500 for this feasibility study in order to continue working with Perkins + Will, and to maintain the option of a Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) funding contribution to the project with a full project application coming in March. This $7,500 will not be immediately spent, and will be returned to CSF in the event that a BIPV installation is not possible.

The goal of this study is to assess the feasibility of installing 120 shading panels with BIPV along the southwest facade of the Life Sciences building. Initial design consisted of perforated metal panels as shading elements, which has been estimated to cost approximately $675,000. The additional cost add-on for these metal shading panels to be converted to BIPV will be dependent on the classification of panels chosen, and could range from $100,000 to over $300,000. Because of this cost magnitude, UW-Solar is also examining funding options from the Bonneville Environmental Fund and from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

UW-Solar views this as an opportunity to convert a static building element into a featured example of sustainable infrastructure; this is especially true as only a fraction of the cost of the total installation must be raised (considering the $675,000 that is already set aside for the metal shading elements). This project is not only in line with the mission statements of both UW-Solar and the Campus Sustainability Fund, but is also an excellent opportunity for the University as this would be a highly visible and unique solar application. Providing both a source of renewable energy and opportunities for student involvement in campus development, this project will surely promote environmental consciousness at the University of Washington and throughout the Seattle area, via the prominent nature of the installation on the Life Sciences Building.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

The addition of BIPV to the new Life Sciences Building will have a positive impact on the environment through the on-site production of renewable energy as well as the reduction of energy consumption. Power generation from BIPV will increase energy self-sufficiency and resiliency. Initial estimates for the 6,000 ft2 of surface area range from approximately 20,000 to 50,000 kWhrs of clean energy output per year. The presence of vertical fins will control heat gain to the building, decreasing energy consumption associated with internal environmental controls. Overall, the carbon footprint and energy costs of the building will be reduced.

As part of this project, each fin will have microinverters that will be able to read the energy generated. Smart meters will be installed that will callibrate the amount ambient temperature to look at performance and amount of daylight/solar radiation available to each fin on any given day. Through these devices, we will be able to determine kWh produced and GHG emissions avoided. Through modeling we will be able to determine the decreased energy consumption of the Life Sciences Building.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $7,500
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Panels $167,500
Inverters $83,750
Wiring $41,875
Racking System $88,875
Labor $390,000
Permitting N/A
Commissioning $8,000
Metering $7,000
Weather Station $500
SubTotal $780,000
Contingency (20%) $195,000
Estimated Project Cost: $975,000
Estimated In-Kind Donations
Item Approximate Value
Design Consultation $20,000
Staff TimeUnknown
Stamped Drawings from Engineer $50,000
In-Kind Donations Value $70,000
Project Value $1,045,000
Known Funding
Item Value
Life Sciences Building Project Budget $675,000
Amt Already Funded $675,000
Total Funding Needed $300,000

Non-CSF Sources:

Funding SourceAmount of Ask
Life Sciences Project Fund675,000
Bonneville Environmental Fund15,000
WA State Department of Commerce200,000
SourceIn-Kind Donation
Perkins+WillTime for consulting and coordination for project installation
Affiliated EngineersTime for consulting and coordination for project installation & Engineering Stamps
UW StaffTime for consulting and coordination for project installation
Project Completion Total: $975,000


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Funding Research/Applications4 monthsMarch 2016
Full Feasibility Study (FS)4 monthsMarch/April 2016
FS: Design (Solar Analysis, PV/Inverter options, Design Review Board Approval, etc)1 monthFeb 2016
FS: Contractor Agreements2 monthsMarch 2016
FS: Budget Analysis2 monthsMarch 2016
FS: Institutional Frameworks (Establishing rest of the permission required for the project)1 monthFeb 2016
FS: Development of Education & Outreach Plan1 monthFeb 2016
FS: Policy (Coordination with SCL)2 monthsMarch 2016
FS: O&M (Development of O&M policy/plan and gathering of agreements)3 monthsApril 2016