Parking lots are great locations for solar PV in a community like Needham. Like solar panels on schools and homes, solar parking canopies increase our supply of renewable energy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, support local jobs and contribute to Massachsusetts’ statewide goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But solar parking canopies have other benefits – like providing parking sheltered from rain, snow and the hot summer sun.
Those benefits explain why you’re seeing solar canopies in so many places – from large commercial lots (REI in Framingahm and Logan Airport), to school parking lots in nearby communities (Lincoln-Sudbury, Natick & Wayland).
Early this year, the Needham High School Environmental Club met with Green Needham Chair Michael Greis to explore getting solar installed at Needham High School. While the building itself isn’t a great candidate, the students were enthusiastic about the possibility of a solar canopy for the High School parking lot, an idea Green Needham first surfaced several years ago – and more recently suggested to them by Principal Aaron Sicotte.
Inspired by their commitment, Green Needham has kicked off a project – with the Environmental Club in a lead role – to get a solar parking canopy installed at Needham High School. Needham High School uses the most electricity of any town building. A solar parking canopy there could generate 25% or more of the building’s electricity. The canopy could be installed by a developer using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) structure – similar to the one used for the RTS solar array – more quickly and without a capital expenditure by the Town.
The High School is not the only potential location for a solar canopy. A preliminary assessment indicated that the Newman School had potential nearly equivalent to that at the High School. Our goal is for this project to lead to more – on other town-owned lots and – leading by example – at privately-owned lots.
The student team is already working to generate interest and support for the project in the wider community as well as at the High School. They’ve created this infographic and had a video (above) produced by classmates in the interdisciplinary Greater Boston Project class.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, expressions of support or if you’d like to help make solar parking canopies a reality in Needham. Watch for updates on our Solar Parking Canopies project page.