Massachusetts city that mandates solar on new buildings celebrates latest success – pv magazine USA

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Watertown, Massachusetts, a city with a model energy plan, now has a Gold LEED certified building with 252 kW solar and 125 kW storage system, along with 15 EV charging ports.

April 18, 2024

Resilient Watertown, the city’s Climate & Energy Plan, outlines 61 actions to ensure the city is on its way to achieving its goal of 100% of electricity sourced from renewables by 2050.

Two elements of the extensive plan are to promote electrification and enhance and actively promote zero-carbon mobility options for travel. In fact, the city plans to not only have all registered vehicles be electric by 2050, but also has a goal of cutting in half personal vehicular travel miles.

In 2018 the Watertown Town Council passed a first-in-New-England solar ordinance requiring solar on the equivalent of 50% roof coverage for new and substantially renovated buildings over 10,000 sq. feet and 90% of parking garages.

Now the city celebrates the operation of a solar and storage project installed at 66 Galen, a brand new 224,106 square foot life science building that features purpose-built offices and laboratories.

The project was directed by Houston-based Catalyze, a national Energy Transition Partner that develops, finances, owns, and operates integrated renewable assets. Catalyze owns two proprietary technologies: REenergyze, an origination-to-operations software integration platform and SolarStrap, a proprietary mounting technology to install rooftop panels.

The Gold LEED-certified facility draws power from 252 kW solar and 125 kW storage system, covering about 10% of the buildings electricity needs. It also boasts a series of EV charging stations featuring 15 ports, located within the parking garage and are intended for use by employees and visitors.

The installation features Znshine Solar modules, a 251 kWh battery from SYL and Powercharge EV chargers. Catalyze told pv magazine USA that the battery storage system will be used to offset peak demand times, supplying solar power to the building when the cost of power from the utility provider would be at its highest.

Other sustainability features include 100% recyclable terra cotta tiles with a low-e coating on the exterior that maximize the building’s insulative properties and minimize solar heat gain; high-efficiency LED and self-dimming lighting to minimize light pollution; a variable-volume air handler system that helps reduce energy cost by 19%, according to Catalyze, compared to buildings of a similar size; and significant water conservation infrastructure that directs excess rainwater to green space.

To support this project, Catalyze participated in the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, an incentive program that has catapulted Massachusetts into the top ten list for solar states.

The building, which is called 66 Galen, is owned by Davis and Boston Development Group, with investment by Actis and Encap.

“It’s terrific to see a multi-technology scheme such as 66 Galen which comprises energy generation from solar PV and battery storage come into operation,” said Javier Orellana, director, energy infrastructure at Actis. “It’s a perfect demonstration of the energy transition in progress.”

66 Galen is not the first solar on a commercial building in Watertown. The largest commercial solar installation is on Arsenal Yards.

Arsenal Yards

The more than one million square foot mixed-use development that includes state-of-the-art life science lab space, 300 apartments, and a 146-room hotel. The 1. 1 MW of solar was installed in 2020 by Boston-based Kearsarge Energy.

Watertown is also home to the first net-zero school in Massachusetts. The Cunniff elementary school is testament to the support among municipal leaders as well as town residents. In developing the Climate & Energy Plan, the city surveyed residents, solicited comments, distributed educational materials, had conversations at five public events and invited the public to the three advisory group meetings—all to solicit feedback and support for the clean energy goals in Watertown.

Watertown intends to re-evaluate its goals and actions regularly in order to keep them on target for the 2050 goal, and also to adjust any actions to adapt to new trends and update and adjust actions and targets to adapt to emerging trends and technologies.

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