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Projects Updates for Speech and Hearing Rooftop Solar PVs

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  1. Final Report submitted to SSC - Speech and Hearing Solar


    This project was originally proposed by Mechanical Engineering students for Abbott Power Plant in spring 2016.  At that time, the SSC members did not want to support solar on the co-generation power plant because it uses fossil fuels.  They asked if we could use it on a different campus roof, and we considered all the large or medium campus roofs.


    The SSC asked us to identify a building that could have solar added, so I reached out to Applied Health Sciences in 2016 for approval to use the Speech and Hearing Sciences Building.  Since that time, Kristine Chalifoux confirmed that the roof is strong enough for solar panels, due to a previous change in the insulation materials.  Brian Finet completed design drawings for installing solar on the full available roof, and the Architecture Review Committee confirmed the building is allowed to have solar added.  


    After the engineering design work, the remaining funds were about $35K.  This fall, we received a construction estimate from Jeff Holt for upgrading the electrical system to handle a 70 kW solar PV array.  It would cost about $42K if done in conjunction with your capital project, just to get the wiring up to the roof and ready to punch through and install panels later.  Rather than ask the SSC for additional funding and an extension, I am returning the remaining dollars and putting this project on indefinite hold. 


    The overall campus goals for on-campus solar generation are listed in the 2015 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), which will be updated for 2020.  The current objective is to generate 25,000 MWh/year of on-campus solar, and we are currently at about 7,000 MWh/year.  Per the direction received from Chancellor Jones, we are working on a second large-scale solar farm to meet the goal, rather than several smaller-scale projects. 


    The second solar farm is planned to be about 12,000 kW in name-plate capacity, significantly more than the 70 kW rooftop array for Speech and Hearing.  Rooftop solar is still an option, and several departments continue to install them at the building scale. The design drawings are posted online through the iCAP Portal, at, for future use.


  2. Jeff Holt assigned to coordinate installation

    Associated Project(s): 

    Jeff Holt met with Morgan White today to discuss the rooftop solar project on the Speech and Hearing Sciences Building.  We discussed solar installer certifications (NABCEP), in-house construction options, and coordination with the Capital project being managed by Kevin Price.  We also discussed the options for requesting additional funding from the Student Sustainability Committee, to be able to install more of the solar.

  3. Work Order created for engineering work

    Associated Project(s): 

    Work Request 253325 converted to Work Order 10519389


    Work Order: 10519389



    Department Reference:


    Customer Description:

    WO for engineering services for solar funding for Speech and hearing sciences



    Phase: 001 DESIGN SERVICES

  4. Meeting to initiate the work order

    Associated Project(s): 

    F&S staff met to discuss the Speech and Hearing Sciences Building Rooftop Solar PVs project.  Managing Engineer Kristine Chalifoux and Electrical Engineer Brian Finet will take the lead on the design.  The design will use a ballast mounting system, real time energy meters, and an online solar dashboard.

  5. F&S design meeting

    Associated Project(s): 

    Brian Finet shared a preliminary sketched layout for the Speech and Hearing Rooftop Solar PV, in a short meeting with Morgan Johnston and Robert Halverson.  During the spring funding meeting of the Student Sustainability Committee, they questioned if it was possible to do a scalable design for this building, so more than the originally funded 11kW could be installed in the future.  The answer is yes, this is highly scalable.

  6. Preliminary meeting with F&S Engineering Design

    Associated Project(s): 

    Morgan Johnston, Robert Halverson, and Brian Finet met to discuss the design needs of the Speech and Hearing Rooftop Solar PVs project (on building #209).  Key points discussed are:

    Per the building occupants, this project needs to be installed at the same time as the Capital Project in that building, currently scheduled for summer 2017.  Therefore, the bulk of the design needs to be completed by December 2016, and the installation methodology should be clarified in September or October, 2016.

    The project must be metered, in order to track the solar energy generation.  There are several metering options and considerations to be addressed.  The meter needs to track real-time energy generation from the array, but this project does not currently include setting up a dashboard website specifically for this array.

    Discussion about the pros and cons of various mounting methods were discussed.  Additional potential for rooftop leaks are the primary concern for building occupants and maintenance contacts.  The most manageable installation style is to connect the solar panels to an existing load bearing column for the building.  Ballast style installations, while not creating an immediate rooftop penetration point, are very likely to wear on the roof and create non-point source leaks which are hard to find and eliminate.  Additionally, with a ballasted mounting system the snow load is difficult to calculate due to the unpredictable effect of snow drifts.

  7. SH Solar Funding Agreement

    One of the strategies outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan is a significant increase in the amount of solar energy on campus, which would include rooftop panels as part of the plan. Toward that end, SSC is funding an 11-kilowatt array on the roof of the Speech and Hearing Building. This specific location was selected due to its viability, visibility, and location near the heart of campus.

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