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WPUDA Goes Grid-Tied Solar in Olympia

Credits: ©2011 Washington Public Utility Districts Association (W

When the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) built a new headquarters building in 2007, it installed a 34-kilowatt solar array on its roof – the largest in Washington State at the time. The photovoltaics generate enough electricity to meet the building’s daytime needs, with surplus power sold to Puget Sound Energy through its grid-tied, net metered system. This solar-powered headquarters in Olympia, Washington, was the first structure certified as a LEED Platinum green building in the state. The project was helped toward its solar goals when REC Silicon, a Grant County, WA-based producer of high-grade polysilicon for use in solar panels and computers, donated 160 solar panels for the building. The solar power is monitored 24 hours per day, and on an annual basis, Western Washington receives 70 percent as much solar energy as some of the best solar locations in the US. The building’s standing seam metal roof is rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council to reduce heat absorption and buildup, thereby reducing the urban heat-island effect. The 11,000-square-foot WPUDA building also incorporates Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber, high-efficiency locally-manufactured glass, and low-emitting finishes and flooring, including paint, carpet and adhesives. There are green fixtures throughout including natural light for every workspace, super energy efficient windows, no CFC, HCFC or Halons in HVAC System, and 80 percent of the materials are from within 500 miles of Olympia. A flowing water feature in front of the building recycles rainwater collected from the roof. The structure is a two-story wood-frame office with steel and masonry structural elements, over a below-grade concrete parking garage. (Scroll to bottom for additional resources)


WPUDA PVs from Above

The Washington Public Utility Districts Association’s (WPUDA) 34-kilowatt solar installation generates enough electricity to meet the building’s daytime needs, with surplus sold to the local utility through net metering. This solar-powered headquarters building in Olympia was the first LEED Platinum” certified green building in the State of Washington. Its ©2011 Helix Design Group

The program requirements for the WPUDA HQ were accommodated within a quarter-acre brownfield development site by incorporating below-grade parking and construction close to property lines and adjacent buildings. The building is designed to aesthetically fit into the surrounding residential neighborhood, while incorporating modern design elements as the area transitions to a more commercial district. The key design element for the project is the treatment of scale; its structure is broken into smaller, more discrete residential-scale elements, utilizing changes in materials/textures, setbacks and multiple wall planes, hipped roof planes and bracketed window awnings. The office windows are residential size and spacing while the glass entry facade reflects a more commercial quality.

The WPUDA building utilizes a Trane high-efficiency split system heat pumps, with VVT zoning and CO2 control, along with a Honeywell integrated energy management system and advanced filtration systems. These features, combined with the on-site rooftop photovoltaic cells, provide reduced energy consumption by more than 60 percent. The plumbing fixtures selected reduce water consumption and sewage conveyance by more than 50 percent.

Selected Building Features
• Solar power: 159 roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, (34kw total capacity), are projected to generate 50 percent of the building’s power requirements

• Glass: LoĒ³-366 glass blocks solar heat and 95 percent of harmful UV rays without darkening like tinted glass

• Water: The plaza water feature is fed by rainwater. Like a natural stream, it will be allowed to go dry in the summer. And landscaping is not irrigated

• Heat Island reduction: Cool Roof technology limits heat absorption and heat build-up to reduce smog

• Natural light: Design, glass & skylights provide natural light to 90 percent of workspaces.

• No off-gassing. Carpet, paint and other materials were selected to eliminate harmful chemical gases in areas where people work

• Heating/Cooling: Ultra high efficiency HVAC system with no ozone-depleting refrigerants, and high MERV-13 air filtration and operable windows for healthy air

Selected Achievements
• 50 percent renewable energy

• 52 percent reduction in generated wastewater

• 61 percent reduction in potable water use

• 69 percent energy optimization

• 89 percent construction waste diverted from landfills

• 17 percent recycled content of construction materials

• 71 percent FSC-certified wood

• 59 percent materials manufactured locally, and of those, 62 percent were harvested locally

• 90 percent of work areas have natural daylight

• 100 percent of work areas have access to outside views

National award: DBIA 2008 National Design-Build Award under $5 million, and finalist for Best Overall


Regional award: Northwest Construction Best of 2008 Design Build Office Industrial under $50 million


State-wide award: AGC 2008 Build Washington Award, Green Building Category

WPUDA is a trade association representing 27 public utility districts across the state that provide electricity, water and sewer services and wholesale telecommunications to more than 1.5 million people. Public utility districts are customer-owned utilities governed by locally elected boards of commissioners.


  WPUDA Floor Plans (634 kb)

  WPUDA Brochure 2008 (1,415 kb)

  WPUDA Connections Special Issue 2007 (3,958 kb)