UC San Diego Takes Another Step Toward Carbon Neutrality

The Project

UCSD Trade Street Warehouse Roof Mount SolarLike many institutions of higher learning in the United States, the University of California at San Diego (UC San Diego) has set a high sustainability goal for itself as part of its Campus Clean Renewable Energy Project (CCREP): to become climate neutral by 2025. To meet this goal, the campus has invested in a variety of sustainability efforts, including the implementation of solar power. One of the University’s latest solar installations took place atop the Trade Street Warehouse building located near the campus. Built in 1988, The Trade Street Warehouse is a two-story multipurpose building that is nearly 200,000 square feet. Owned and operated by UCSD, the Trade Street facility is used for campus housing and staging, book store shipping and receiving, and departmental and library storage. The facility has undergone an extensive energy efficient retrofit including a wall-to-wall electrical lighting upgrade as well as a 267 kW, roof mounted solar installation. For the Trade Street facility’s solar installation, UC San Diego retained San Diego based Sullivan Solar Power, a leading solar installer in Southern California, to serve as the system integrator. The company, which has doubled in size every year since its inception, provides a broad range of residential and commercial social installation services. Sullivan Solar Power has been a SunLink partner since 2010 and has successfully installed more than 1.5 MW worth of SunLink mounting hardware and counting.

The Challenge

In the case of the Trade Street project, the roof’s weight load capacity varied a great deal across the span of the roof. The University environment also required adherence to strict logistical and installation timelines.

The Solution

In answer to the roof’s weight load limitations, SunLink’s engineers designed a hybrid system that would include ballasted sections and connected sections. Hybrid systems help decrease the amount of overall weight bearing on the roof while limiting the total number of roof penetrations. “The structural make-up of the roof supports offered limited capacity to support normal forces required to confidently anchor the racking system,” explained Chris Gleed, Sullivan Solar Power’s Director of Project Management. “A fine balance of weight distribution and anchorage distribution drove the design, with particular attention given to the loading on the roof.”

Logistical and Installation Efficiencies

Once the mounting system design was finalized, Sullivan Solar Power took advantage of SunLink’s integrated balance of system products, procuring not only SunLink RMS racking, but also combiner boxes and wire management. SunLink’s balance of systems approach improves both logistics and installation efficiency. “Utilizing SunLink’s complete balance of system product lines allowed us to meet installation deadlines and ensure open communication through the entire process, from order placement to product delivery,” expressed Gleed. “This, in turn, gave us the ability to properly plan, forecast, and ensure that all aspects of installation were executed according to plan.”

As an additional means to fast-track installation, Sullivan Solar Power retained SunLink to prepanelize all of the project’s modules with mounting hardware into panel assemblies of three or four. Prepanelization helps to dramatically decrease on-site labor time and expedite overall system installation. “The Trade Street project was the second project to take advantage of SunLink’s prepanelization service,” Gleed explains. “On both projects, prepanelization offered time savings and installation efficiency.”

More Solar To Come

Roof Mount Solar Installed on UCSD Trade Street WarehouseThe Campus Clean Renewable Energy Project initiative at UC San Diego has already lead to the installation of one megawatt of solar generated power systems throughout the campus in various forms including parking canopies, a ground mount system and multiple SunLink roof mount systems. In addition to the PV, the campus plans to incorporate an energy storage system that will enable it to distribute power more efficiently as well as help the utility grid during peak demand. Sullivan Solar Power looks forward to working with SunLink to complete another smaller roof mount system on UC San Diego’s Marine Ecosystem, Sensing, Observation and Modeling Laboratory later this year.

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