Civil & Environmental Engineering senior Alex Ratcliff has worked to increase solar power capacity at the University of Washington throughout his time as a student. Since joining the UW Solar student group as a freshman, Ratcliff has helped oversee new solar installations on the residence halls Maple, Alder and Elm, as well as working on solar installations for the new Life Sciences building.
Photos by Rosemary Reyes
The new Life Sciences Building under construction next to the Burke Gilman Trail features floor-to-ceiling windows all along the south side. The windows allow the sun to naturally light the space, but that sunlight also presents a problem.
In the summer, direct sunlight would overheat the building. Instead of relying on air conditioning, the team behind the building’s design found a unique solution.
Though our city isn’t known for sunny weather, solar arrays are still a highly viable source of energy for the PNW, and solar panels are starting to appear on rooftops across campus. Solar power installations can be found on the roofs of many West campus residence halls, including Mercer, Elm and Alder.
Two sustainability-focused groups at the University of Washington, UW-Solar and the Green Greek Representative Program, are collaborating on a project that has sunny prospects and dazzling potential. Essentially, the two groups will be working together to determine opportunities for solar power in the UW Greek Community.