UW-Solar Life Sciences Building Photovoltaic Implementation

Executive Summary:

UW-Solar is a student-led organization working with architecture firm Perkins+Will to install building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and rooftop photovoltaics (PV) 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. The rooftop PV will generate substantial clean energy and reduce the building's carbon footprint.

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 regarding the design of the rooftop PV. 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. All students directly involved in this project are receiving school credit through VIP-courses in the Engineering Department.

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.

Although the rooftop PV will not be visible from the street, students, faculty, and visitors can interact with the Siemens dashboard to view the energy produced by the system. In addition, 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 estimated lifetime of the BIPV installation is 25-30 years. The estimated lifetime of the rooftop PV installation is 35-40 years. Operations and Maintenance costs are incorporated into our budget.

Environmental Problem:

A solar installation directly adresses the problems of climate change, air pollution, and energy independence. Solar cells generate clean electricity on-site, which reduces the carbon footprint of the building.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

The addition of BIPV and rooftop photovoltaics 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. BIPV will increase energy self-sufficiency and resiliency by producing nearly 5,000 kWh per year. Initial estimates for rooftop PV range from approximately 80,000 to 110,000 kWhrs of clean energy output per year. In total, we estimate that adding BIPV and rooftop PV will generate approximately 110,000 kWh per year. The presence of vertical fins will control heat gain to the building, decreasing energy consumption associated with internal environmental controls.

A Siemens dashboard located in the lobby of the Life Sciences Building will display the energy metrics for building. Students, faculty, and visitors can interact with the dashboard to see real-time energy production data, including the energy generated by the BIPV and PV systems.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $150,000
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Items marked with *** are what CSF funding will be used for.
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Racking System3037011,100
Weather Station5001500
Labor (Installation)120,000
Operations & Maintenance***150/year40 years6,000
Remaining Balance from $600,000 budget for BIPV245,118

Non-CSF Sources:

Note: If we are unable to raise the necessary funds to complete this project, we will return the full award to CSF
NameAmount to be RequestedEstimated Application Date
Seattle City Light GreenUp Program150,000Fall, 2017
American Solar Energy Society50,000Fall, 2017
Department of Commerce Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants300,000Spring, 2018
Project Completion Total: $600,000


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Search for Additional FundingOngoingSummer, 2017
Apply for fundingOngoingFall/Winter, 2017
Construction of Life Sciences Building2 yearsJuly 12, 2018
Apply to Department of Commerce Grant1 monthSpring, 2018
Draft/Submit Request for Proposal2 monthsSummer, 2018
Construction of Rooftop PV6 monthsWinter, 2018