King Open School 1.3 MW Solar Project
Check out the King Open project video here!
The design and construction of the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper School is a story of harmony between form and function. Although many new public schools contain the latest in teaching technology, the City of Cambridge has chosen to go a step further in leading the nation with the construction of cutting edge schools that harness the power of intelligent design. Intelligent design is ubiquitous at Cambridges’ newest schools. Every detail that impacts the student body of these institutions has been analyzed and improved upon from one groundbreaking project to the next. One example is found in the classroom windows. Special glazing and thoughtful orientation maximize natural light while minimizing thermal transfer keeping the classrooms both well lit and naturally cool.
Unsurprisingly, the intelligent design paradigm extends to the solar system at the King Open School. Foregoing the mundane, the architects and designers at William Rawn & Associates, Arrowstreet, and AKF Energy inspired a path towards architecturally integrated solar powerful enough to meet Platinum LEED standards. Utilizing the expertise of the experienced technical design team at CivicSolar, the school’s solar arrays capture nearly all available roof, awning, and facade area. The composite 1.3-megawatt system generates enough energy to supply nearly 1,000 US homes. Such energy yield is crucial in qualifying for LEED certification.
Function, however, is only half of the story. The PV system of the King Open School serves as a reminder and leading example that solar can achieve beauty at scale. Unlike most large rooftop systems, many portions of the school’s arrays are visible from both the ground and classrooms. Awning and facade mounted panels serve to inspire and remind students, teachers, and parents of the technology at work that energizes the building. In addition to these unique and aesthetically pleasing installation methods, views of the deep blue monolithic rooftop arrays evoke ruminations of the ocean.
W. T. Rich was the general contractor who oversaw the entire construction project while LeVangie Electric Corporation completed the electrical sub-contracting. CivicSolar, a prime solar engineering and procurement company, was contracted to lead both the electrical and mechanical engineering and supply all of the solar equipment needed for the installation.
A first class equipment mix was required to realize the ambitious goals of form and function set forth by the Cambridge design team. The requisite product characteristics were aspirational; unrivaled efficiency, flexibility, and striking visual appeal. Design and operational flexibility was one of the most demanding equipment requirements. To maximize onsite production nearly every square foot of the school’s 17 roofs is blanketed with Tigo Smart bifacial Sunpreme panels. Across the 21 different planes in this project nearly every mounting method imaginable is employed including flush direct attached, ballasted, mechanical well spans, facades, and awning. Opsun Systems’ bifacial racking offering stood alone in providing the necessary strengths and flexibility required. Anchor Product’s U-Anchor attached membrane served to securely fasten the arrays to the roof.
SMA Sunny Tripower Core1 50kW inverters serve as the keystone of the design. Their unrivaled flexibility is enabled by six maximum power point tracking channels spanning 12 string inputs. Together the 22 inverters maximize the yield from 3,400 modules across 200 strings.
CivicSolar’s engineering team worked across manufacturers to develop a comprehensive package that would serve to accomplish the city’s desire for both a high-performing and high-style solar system.
Cambridge, MA 02141