City of Framingham

Case study

City of Framingham acts against climate change with solar, to achieve energy cost savings and reduce emissions

From its humble beginnings in the mid-1600s, to its now thriving population of over 71,000, the City of Framingham has changed and grown significantly in its 300-plus years. Today, Framingham’s diversity, broad neighborhood choices, and its great schools keep the city vital and moving forward. With an eye to the future, the city is taking action to address climate change, and that action includes transitioning to renewable energy.

Solar Canopies Serve Dual Purpose

Benefiting from PowerOptions’ Solar Program, Framingham completed solar arrays at three city properties — the McAuliffe Library, Fuller Middle School, and Brophy Elementary. The library project is a roof mounted system utilizing low-profile racking which was decided upon in coordination with the library committee to accommodate aesthetic preferences. At the schools, both sites include solar parking canopies which were custom designed around the operational needs of the sites — integrating water discharge into the subsurface water management systems and managing potential snow accumulation and runoff by directing it away from the parked cars and students. At the Fuller School, the addition of a rooftop array and battery storage system provide additional savings and carbon reduction.

A Trustworthy Developer

The city avoided its own costly and time-consuming competitive procurement because PowerOptions’ robust RFP process fulfilled that requirement. PowerOptions solar provider, Solect Energy, was selected via a best-value procurement from a strong field of experienced solar developers and managed all the construction and logistics in close coordination with the City and School District. By working through the PowerOptions program, Framingham was able to involve Solect early in the process for their newly constructed Fuller Middle School.

Solect’s involvement began roughly two years before the actual construction to ensure that the building and site were “solar ready”. This “ounce of prevention” approach utilized the services of Solect’s “integrative planning for design and construction” team to ensure structural sufficiency, coordinate on the roof plan to optimize solar potential, plan the parking canopy subgrade work to tie into the stormwater management infrastructure, and perhaps most importantly — coordinate timelines to fit within the overall site construction plan. This work performed by Solect required no cost or commitment from Framingham.

Savings Without the Hassle

Further, by using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), there were no capital costs for Framingham, and the city has no ongoing maintenance or operational responsibilities. Moreover, the projects are expected to collectively save the city more than $880,000 over the course of 25 years and lower emissions by an impressive 18,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MT CO2), helping Framingham to reach its climate action goals and demonstrate its commitment to sustainability through these highly visible (and we might add – beautiful!) project.

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