The $19.58-million project, completed in May 2012, began a "Generating Green" program for the county with the installation of photovoltaic systems in four facility locations, on both rooftops and planned carports.

Photo Courtesy of Mike King
Photo Courtesy of Mike King

The systems could generate an estimated 136.96 million kwh during their 25-year life spans. Each will supply power to its location and feed energy back into the grid when surplus electicity is produced, helping to pay for project costs.

For Stronghold Engineering, the Riverside-based general contractor, scope included installation of high-quality rooftop PV systems and the design and construction of H-type, low-maintenance galvanized steel carports.

Stronghold also installed energy-efficient, low-maintenance LED security lighting and additional conduits for vehicle-charging stations. Further scope included slurry sealing and restriping of the parking lots, which remained operational during construction.

Overall and individually, the four sites offered challenges. Stronghold says it had to be innovative in the scheduling and phasing of the projects because all of the sites were at heavily occupied buildings. Moreover, because county budget restraints did not support trellis-type carports, H-type carports were substituted, allowing the PV panels to double as roofs. This offered a cooling factor and contributed to 17% higher energy production by the panels.

At the sheriff's station, no boring or excavation was allowed under the adjacent light-rail mass transit/commuter track, necessitating a redesign and installation solutions. At the Valley Health Facility, emergency vehicle access had not been part of the RFP, so Stronghold changed the location to an adjacent, county-owned field.

"The logistics of multiple sites was certainly one of the major challenges," says Beverly A. Bailey, Stronghold Engineering president and CEO. Bailey adds, "It required innovative and detailed planning to ensure each site's schedules and safety programs not only worked at that location but also as a cohesive whole."

Solar Photovoltaic Power Generation at the County of Santa Clara Government Facilities

Santa Clara

Key Players

Owner: County of Santa Clara, San Jose

Contractor: Stronghold Engineering Inc., Riverside

Lead Design: Burns Engineering, Philadelphia

Submitted by Stronghold Engineering Inc.