Life Sciences Building Rooftop Solar Array - Supplementary

Executive Summary:

UW-Solar has been working with the architects and engineers designing the Life Sciences Building for the last four years. We were part of the proposal, funding, and installation of the Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) fins on the South facade of the building, but have always been aiming to install a larger and more efficient solar panel system on the roof. This proposal is requesting $50,000 to complete the necessary funding for a rooftop solar array on the Life Sciences Building- the new home of UW Biology that was completed this fall. The proposed design is a 100 kW array that would produce an estimated 105,000 kWh/yr, which is equivalent to more than 78 metric tons of CO2e. This system is estimated to cost a total of $300,000, of which $250,000 has already been secured. Therefore, we are requesting the final $50,000 to allow us to fully build-out this system, otherwise we will need to reduce the size to 80 kW. We are hoping the funds for this project come from the new collaboration between CSF and the Student Technology Fee (STF). Producing energy by conventional power plants produces large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. By generating energy on-site using solar energy, this project would decrease the carbon footprint of the Life Sciences Building and the University as a whole. This project would provide three distinct benefits: an economic return to the University, an increase in the sustainability efforts of the campus, and exposing UW-solar students to real-world engineering design and communication with industry professionals. If funded, this project would be the fifth successful rooftop installation designed by UW-Solar, and complete our efforts on the Life Sciences Building. UW-Solar is part of the Urban Infrastructure Lab in the Department of Urban Design & Planning. We are an interdisciplinary student team that work to promote, design, and install solar installation on campus. For more information, visit our website

Student Involvement:

Over the three years that this project has been in development, a number of students have been involved. The leadership team for this project has varied between one to five people over this tenure, with Alex Ratcliff as the long-standing project manager.

The two students currently leading this project are Shivani Joshi and Alex Ratcliff. Aside from these two, there are more than thirty students actively involved in UW Solar, of which a number have been partially involved in the project when necessary. Shivani and Alex stand as the two principal students during this grant proposal stage, but at least two other students will be brought onto the team during the drafting of the Request for Proposal (RFP).

Shivani has recently joined the Life Sciences team and has been helping out in the finalisation of the CSF full proposal which includes revisiting cost and energy performance estimations. She will also be involved in future planning including contractor selection, communication with professional architects and engineers, and interpreting submitted construction documents.

Alex has been the project manager for the Life Sciences Building for the last three years. He assisted on the BIPV installation, was the student representative for the Putting the Green in Greenhouse project, and has been working diligently for the installation of a full-sized solar array on the roof. Alex’s primary responsibilities include drafting construction documents, communication with Devin Kleiner, Robert Goff, and other building managers, meeting with UW administrators to discuss the project, and the writing and review of all official documentation.

Education & Outreach:

The Life Sciences building contains a virtual dashboard that will enable interested students and visitors to experience and learn about how the BIPV panels are helping the building be more energy efficient by following the panels’ energy production. They will also be able to monitor the amount of water that will be recycled by the lab-water recovery system. The dashboard is an interactive system and will be able to engage students and visitors by giving them live updates.

The students who are directly involved with UW Solar will be able to experience a real life working environment by being present on the construction site and taking part in the process. Professionals will personally interact with the students and educate them about the detail of the actual installation as well as revise their design and make any appropriate adjustments. One of the scoring guidelines of the RFP will be a “student engagement” proposal that the contractor will be required to submit. Typically, we receive bids that allow students to join walkthroughs of the site, witness the construction of the array, review the construction documents with the project engineer, and participate in the commissioning process.

The Life Science building BIPV project will be thoroughly discussed on the UW Solar website as well as being highlighted in the upcoming edition of the Civil and Environmental Engineering newsletter.

Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
Project Longevity:

All of the solar panels, electrical equipment, and metering equipment to be installed will come with warranties to cover malfunctions, deficiencies, failures, etc. that typically span from 10-30 years. Warranties will be included in the specifications of the bids we receive. The lifespan of solar arrays are generally expected to exceed the warranty period; solar arrays can last up to 40-50 years if properly maintained.

The array will require scheduled maintenance in the form of yearly cleaning and equipment checks. The details of scheduled maintenance will be outlined in an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) plan submitted by the contractors along with their bid. The long-term maintenance will become the responsibility of UW Facilities and the Building Manager. Unused funds from this project budget will be transferred to UW Facilities to support the long-term maintenance.

Environmental Problem:

With this solar installation, we will be reducing the University’s carbon footprint by reducing the amount of CO2 and CO2e produced through conventional energy production. The carbon footprint of the Life Sciences building, due to its lab spaces and large physical footprint, is relatively high. The rooftop photovoltaic panels will help reduce the carbon footprint of the LIfe Sciences building as they will be using solar (renewable) energy in addition to the traditional energy production methods, thus increasing its energy self sufficiency. The rooftop space can accommodate 100kW solar array (approximately 335 standard panels) which will generate 105,000 kWh/year (estimate made using the NREL PVWatt Calculator). This is equivalent to more than 78 metric tons of CO2e, which can be compared to the amount of carbon generated from:

  • 9,000 gallons of gasoline
  • 86,000 pounds of coal
  • 185 barrels of oil

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

The Life Sciences Building has installed a virtual dashboard in the first floor lobby of the building. This dashboard receives information from meters installed throughout the building, and students can interact with the dashboard to see the real-time and historical data of several building metrics including, but not limited to, the energy production from the BIPV panels and the volume of water recycled by the lab-water recovery system. The infrastructure necessary to connect the rooftop system to this system is already in place, and simply requires installing the system. In this way, students will be able to see the measured electrical production of the rooftop system recorded by the system meters. The dashboard will present data on the amount of kWh produced and may have an option to see the equivalent CO2e.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $50,000
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


This budget is subject change, and a revised budget will be submitted with bid from our Request for Proposal.
ItemCost Expected Funding Source
Solar Panels$80,000Original CSF Award
Wiring$15,000Original CSF Award
Racking System$10,000This Application
Permitting$500This Application
Inverters$50,000Original CSF Award
Metering$7,000This Application
Weather Station$500This Application
Transformer$2,500This Application
IT Equipment$4,000This Application
Comissioning$5,000Original CSF Award
Operations & Maintenance$3,000This Application
Shipping$2,500This Application
Contingency$20,000This Application

Non-CSF Sources:

Previous awards given to this project.
SourceAmountFunding TypeNote
CSF$150,000GrantPreliminary grant awarded to the project in 2017
Undisclosed Donor$100,000DonationDonation given to fund this rooftop project
Project Completion Total: $300,000


Timeline is subject to change and will need coordination with UW Capital Projects &amp Development and Procurement
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
CSF Proposal Submitted2 weeksOctober 15th, 2018
CSF Award NotificationN/AEarly November, 2018
Communication with CPD and UW Procurement2 monthsEnd of November/Early December, 2018
Request for Proposal (RFP) Drafted & Submitted2 monthsEnd of November/Early December, 2018
Bids ReceivedN/AJanuary/February, 2019
Contractor Selected1 weekFebruary/March, 2019
Array Constructed4 monthsEnd of Summer, 2019