New PV system for AHS Building supports UH System’s ‘net-zero’ goal

New photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of UH West Oʻahu’s Administration and Health Science Building.

A majority of the photovoltaic panels are installed in this June 4 photo of the new PV system on the roof of UH West Oʻahu’s Administration and Health Science Building.

A photovoltaic system currently being installed for University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s Administration and Health Science (AHS) Building is a step toward UH System’s goal to be “net-zero” — or producing as much renewable energy as it consumes — across its 10 campuses by 2035.

Installation of UH West Oʻahu’s new PV system began on May 26 and is expected to be completed on July 7 by general contractor Swinerton Builders and subcontractor RevoluSun. HECO validation is scheduled between July 21 to Sept. 3, during which time the new meter will be installed and the system energized, monitored, and commissioned.

The goals of the project — in addition to the incorporation of a renewable energy source into the AHS Building by a grid-tied PV system toward UH System’s “net-zero” target — include aiding toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, at a minimum, for the building. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

The AHS Building PV system being installed is sized at 96 kilowatts. Electrical demand for the building before COVID-19 was in the vicinity of 100 kW, but power usage has been significantly reduced the last couple of months with the implementation of the stay-at-home/campus closing mandate.

While power usage upon the reopening of the campus for the Fall 2020 semester is uncertain at this time, it is expected to be less than previous to the COVID-19 impact due to anticipated reduction of building users in compliance with social distancing guidelines, such as less students per classroom and increased online classes.

The system cost is $437,909, which includes onsite project team coordination and supervision, revisions to existing structure for electrical pathways, and coordination with HECO for system validation. The PV system is funded by a combination of the AHS Building construction contingency balance (G.O. Bonds) and EB-5 funds.

During installation, the AHS Building loading area will be used for staging of materials and a large forklift will be onsite to transport materials to the rooftop. Work crews will be concentrated on the rooftop and in the mechanical and electrical rooms in the Health Science wing.

Those on campus are asked to please be cognizant of traversing equipment and of signs and barricades that will be set in place to identify work areas.

Image courtesy of Swinerton Builders and RevoluSun