Providence College in Providence, R.I., recently installed a metal roof system with thin-film building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) on the Slavin Center, the college’s student center.
The BIPV system on the Slavin Center is known as ATA-Solar, manufactured by ATAS International. Available in a variety of panel options, the ATA-Solar system used on the center’s roof utilizes 24-gauge steel standing-seam roofing panels in a Silversmith color with a thin-film amorphous silicon laminate, by Uni-Solar, applied to the panels. A total of 4,880 sq. ft. of metal roof panels and 72 laminates (measuring 18’ each) were installed. The laminates have a rating of 136 watts DC each, yielding a total system rating of 9.792 kW.
Installation of the ATA-Solar system posed no problems. “There was a little bit of a learning curve with it, but it really doesn’t change the installation of the roof. It is pretty much the same as a typical standing-seam roof,” said Walter Fox, estimator with Roofing Concepts, the East Greenwich, R.I.-based roofing contractor. The ATA-Solar system is factory-assembled and shipped to a job site ready to install.
The college selected a metal roof for aesthetics, while also choosing a sustainable material that would require minimal maintenance. When comparing solar system options, BIPV stood out because of its effectiveness. “Based upon our usage, budget and the life expectancy of the various options, the integrated design was the most efficient for the college,” said Mark Rapoza, assistant vice president for capital properties and facilities planning for Providence College.
Providence College called on architectural firm Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, Cambridge, Mass., to design the addition and create a new entrance for the Slavin Center, while transforming the existing space. The firm also was asked to improve the aesthetics of the Slavin Center. “The architecture of the late 60s/early 70s was less than attractive by most opinions,” Rapoza explained. “The hope was that the addition would add a new façade to the existing [structure], which was heavily dominated by brick/concrete. The newly constructed glass atrium allows for natural light and a space that is far more welcoming.”
The Slavin Center originally opened in 1971, and it was rededicated with the addition to the south side of the building in September 2009. The $6 million project took eight months to complete. The lower level of the two-level addition contains a large, open student lounge with an adjacent coffee and snack shop, PC Perk, and features seating areas, some with flat-screen TVs. The upper level consists of a large, L-shaped quiet student lounge for studying and small social gatherings. The primary renovations to the existing building were the expansion of studio space for WDOM-FM radio and PC TV.
Bob Hicks, architect for SMMA and project manager, believes the addition has transformed the Slavin Center. “It makes the building so welcoming compared to what was there,” Hicks said. “The building has become a beacon on campus.”
Others involved with the project included: roofing distributor, Beacon Sales Co. Inc., Cranston, R.I.; general contractor, Farrar & Associates Inc., Newport, R.I.; and electrical contractor, Rossi Electric Co. Inc., Cranston.
About The ATA-Solar System
ATA-Solar consists of three main parts—the metal roof panel; thin-film amorphous silicon laminate; and electrical components, including the inverter to convert DC power to AC power, disconnects, wire and the cable tray with mounting clips. The installation process order is: first the roofing panels, which are shipped to the job site with the laminate already in place; then the cable tray; followed by the electrical connection of the laminates; and finally the cable tray cap.
When selecting an ATA-Solar roof, options include ATAS Field-Lok FLM165, FLS180 and Dutch Seam MRD194, available in steel or aluminum, as well as other roofing panels as a special option. The laminates are available in 18’-0” or 9’-4” lengths, and they are 15’-5” wide. The PV laminate is manufactured by Uni-Solar, Rochester Hills, Mich. The electrical components are procured by the electrical contractor, except for the cable tray and mounting clips that are supplied by ATAS. The kilowatt capacity of ATA-Solar depends on the layout of the roof and the type of roofing panels used. Building owners can choose a kilowatt range from 1 to 120 or more, and ATAS will help guide owners, contractors and architects through the selection process.