Life Sciences Building Rooftop Solar Array - Supplementary

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $50,000

Letter of Intent:



UW-Solar is working with the University of Washington (UW) and project architects, Perkins+Will, on the construction of UW’s Life Sciences Building (LSB). UW-Solar contributed to the installation of building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels on the façade of the building. The student group is now advocating for the installation of a 100 kW on the rooftop of the LSB upon completion of the building, scheduled for Fall 2018. We have already secured $150,000 in previous funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) for the project, received a generous $100,000 donation from a charitable organization, and are requesting an additional $50,000 from CSF for the project, through the new Student Technology Fee (STF) partnership with CSF.



UW-Solar is an interdisciplinary team within the University of Washington’s Urban Infrastructure Laboratory that focuses on the development of solar installations with accompanying Industrial Control Systems on buildings on the UW campus. UW-Solar students range from undergraduate to the Ph.D. level within the Colleges of Engineering, Business, Built Environments, and Environmental Sciences. UW-Solar’s primary objective is to provide clean, sustainable power production to reduce the University of Washington’s reliance on external energy resources, improve power systems’ resilience to outages, and reduce the overall carbon footprint of the university. The usage of clean and renewable energy sources are a primary objective of the University of Washington’s Climate Action plan for the future sustainability of the University.


UW is working with Perkins+Will to construct the new Life Science Building. The implementation of a roof-top PV array will enhance the energy generation of the existing design, bringing the project closer to achieving LEED-NC Platinum certification. Power generation from solar energy has been achieved with the construction of BIPV fins on the southeast façade, but the addition of standard photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of the building would allow for far greater harvesting of the solar resource.

In Spring 2017, CSF approved $150,000 in funding for a combined pool that was meant to cover the $600,000 in costs for both the rooftop PV system and the BIPV panels. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure the remaining $450,000 because many of our historical funding sources became unavailable within the current political climate. As such we chose to abandon pursuing funding for the BIPV fins and have focused exclusively on the the rooftop PV system.

In July 2018, we were informed by Devin Kleiner of Perkins+Will that a generous donor was willing to contribute $100,000 to the construction of the rooftop PV system. The original CSF funding combined with the matching donation brings our current budget to $250,000. We are thus requesting an additional $50,000 in order to fully build out our designed 100 kW array on the LSB.

This project has been in development since Fall of 2016. As such, we have already completed the design for the project, estimated costs and power generation, and have begun a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) to be submitted to UW Capital Projects & Development.

We are hoping this project can be supported by the new STF partnership with CSF. The development of clean energy on campus aligns itself with the goals of the STF. This rooftop PV system would provide positive environmental and financial impacts for the University, provide opportunities for students of UW-Solar to work on an engineering and construction project, and promotes sustainability initiatives on campus with a visible and highly-publicized student project.


The addition of photovoltaics to the Life Sciences Building will have a positive impact on the environment through the on-site production of renewable energy, which will both reduce the carbon-footprint of the building and increase its energy self-sufficiency.

As of March 2017, the was enough rooftop space reserved for a 100 kW solar array, or approximately 335 standard panels. Using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's PVWatts calculator (, this array would generate approximately 105,000 kWh/year. According to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator, that is equivalent to upwards of 78 metric tons of CO2e. This is comparable to the carbon generated from:

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


The inclusion of renewable technologies on the Life Sciences Building has been spearheaded by students of UW-Solar since the Fall of 2015. The students working on this project have had opportunities to interact and work with architects from Perkins+Will, contractors from Skanska, and professionals working at the UW.

Numerous updates are necessary before our RFP can be submitted. Luckily, new and returning members of UW-Solar will be available this fall quarter to address these tasks. Students involved in this project will learn:

  • Reading and interpreting construction documents
  • Revising our original design to match the As-Built documents for the rooftop
  • Cost and energy performance estimating

Students will also get the opportunity to select a contracting firm to award the bid using an unbiased, multicriteria analysis. As one criteria, we are including a section within our RFP wherein the contracting firm must propose a “student education and inclusion” plan. This plan should give students the opportunity to tour a construction site, learn from professionals about solar installation, and participating in the commissioning process upon successful construction of the project.


The rooftop array will be installed with a Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. This system would record performance data from each individual panel, which allows for design optimization and simplifies maintenance. In addition, this system stores the performance data, which can be analyzed and presented. A virtual dashboard displaying energy metrics of the LSB will be placed within the 1st floor lobby space. Our SCADA system would be incorporated into the presentation for this dashboard. Students and visitors would be able to interact with the dashboard and explore the building’s energy metrics and sustainable features, including the energy provided by the rooftop array.

The unique aspects of this project make the LSB a leading example of sustainability in higher education and demonstrates the University’s commitment to investing in alternative energy sources. The project has been highly publicized, and the addition of a large rooftop solar array would certainly garner attention from news sources and the student body. This could also serve as a flagship project to highlight the new partnership between the CSF and the STF.


UW-Solar has investigated ongoing accountability for management and maintenance of the solar installations, as well as long-term leadership considerations for the project as it relates to executive stakeholders, logistical management, and staffing and budget impacts of relevant stakeholder organizations.


The following table is a cost estimate for the rooftop array. The budget is meant to be an estimate and will be revised by our contractor bids. Please see the key below for explanation.

Infrastructure Cost ($) IT Cost ($)
Panels 80,000* Inverters 50,000*
Wiring 15,000* Metering 7,000***
Racking System 10,000*** Weather Station 500***
Labor 100,000** Transformer 2,500***
Permitting 500*** IT equipment 4,000***
Commissioning 5,000* Shipping 2,500***
Operations & Maintenance 3,000***    
Subtotal 213,500 Subtotal 66,500
Contingency 20,000*** Total 300,000

*Items intended to be funded by original CSF award
**Items intended to be funded by outside donation
***Items intended to be funded by this application

If we are not awarded the additional $50,000 requested in this application, we will proceed with the $250,000 to construct a reduced array of approximately 80 kW.


The following is a potential project timeline:

  • CSF Full Proposal Due- TBD
  • CSF Award Notification- Late October, 2018 (TBD)
  • Request for Proposal Submitted- Early November 2018
  • Contractor Selected: Early 2019
  • Construction Begins: Late Spring 2019
  • Construction Completed: Summer 2019


Life Sciences Building Project Managers:

Urban Infrastructure Lab Manager - Stefanie Young,

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Alexander Ratcliff