Energy: Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – April 2020 Update

Summary of the estimated dates for the Phase 3 solar projects provided by Bill Ferguson, City of Newton Co-Director of Sustainability.

“Three Ameresco roof projects have been completed: Zervas, Ed Center and Fire Station #3 and Fire HQ. The Ed Center is not yet online but will be as soon as a building shut down can be scheduled. We have been holding off on this shut down for fear of disrupting computer systems in the building that are serving a variety of important services during the COVID-19 school shut down period. The two Ameresco solar canopy projects at North High School are on schedule for the summer.

The Macquarie canopy projects are being planned for the summer and the roofs may be done in the fall. Macquarie is working on a revised schedule which I will share with the School Department as soon as it is available. The Macquarie projects are still pending approvals from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. We are hoping that these approvals are not delayed due to COVID 19. At this time we do not expect COVID 19 to delay the construction phase of the projects once all State and utility approvals have been obtained. Ameresco has obtained all of their approvals.

Source:  Facilities Updated to the School Committee on April 27, 2020   

Energy: Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – November Update

Summary  of the estimated dates of construction of Phase 3 Solar Panel Project at Newton schools. Please note that dates are still subject to change depending upon a number of factors.

Source:  Facilities Updated to the School Committee on Nov 18, 2019   

1. Zervas and Education Center roof projects have started and will be completed by the end of the year.

2. North High School parking canopies. There are two canopies being constructed, one at Lowell Avenue and one at Walnut Street. This will be done in two phases with foundation work done mostly during the April 2020 School Break and the installation of the canopies during the summer. This proposed schedule should greatly minimize alternative parking as was originally foreseen.
– The foundations will be built over the spring break week. The Lowell Ave work will spill over into the two weeks after spring break. The Walnut Street work will be done before students
return from spring break. There’s a plan for alternative parking for these two spillover weeks.
– The canopies and solar panels will be erected during the summer 2020 and alternative parking is not anticipated at this point.

3. Cabot, Carr, and Angier roof projects are currently schedule for the spring. A specific schedule will be provided when available. These roof projects will be done with minimal disruption to school activities. Material will be craned to the roofs on a Saturday and will be out of the way once they are on the roof. Materials will be on site for a few days before craning but we will coordinate with the Facilities Department to place these materials in an acceptable location while they wait for craning.

4. Education Center parking canopies are planned for the spring.

According to Mayor Fuller, “Solar panels are currently being installed on the roof of
the Zervas Elementary School. When the solar array comes online in December, it will provide 42 percent of the school’s electricity.”

Zervas Solar Panels 2019

Energy: Solar Panels Update – September 2019

Since 2012, solar panels were installed in 11 Newton schools, including at the Newton South High School rooftop (pictured above). By the end of 2020, Newton will add solar panels at 17 additional school and municipal locations, generating an additional 21 percent of the municipal energy use. See list here

Last spring the City Council approved the new locations, including solar canopies at the Newton Free Library parking lot and at Brown Middle School.  According to Mayor Fuller, “these solar projects help reduce the city’s carbon footprint, generate revenues and create savings for the City.” According to the US EPA, the effect of those projects is the equivalent of either removing 865 gas-powered cars from the road or the carbon sequestration effect of a 4,758-acre forest. The 17 newly approved locations are expected to generate $5 million in electricity savings over 20 years.

Phase 3 Solar Panel Project Update

Source: Facilities Memo to School Committee – 9-04-19

Roof Solar Projects

Ameresco is scheduling roof  top solar projects beginning the third week of October at:  Zervas Elementary School, FA Day, and the Ed Center.  These projects will take 4 to 6 weeks.  There will be no disruption of parking.  Materials will be delivered and craned to the roof over the weekend so as not to disrupt school operations.

Macquarie rooftop projects are not yet scheduled and are pending utility and State approvals.  Their projects include roofs at Angier, Cabot, Carr, and Williams. 

Solar Canopy Projects

Locations: Mason Rice, Brown , Oak Hill, Memorial Spaulding, Newton North, Ed Center

Traffic Division and the Police Department to analyze and discuss alternative parking locations for staff during the solar canopy construction period.  Every effort will be made to cause the least disruption as possible and the projects will be staged to minimize impact to staff and neighborhoods.  However, some temporary disruption and inconvenience will be unavoidable during this period.

It is important to note the construction of the Newton North High School, and Oak Hill/Brown canopies has changed and will not be done until the spring and summer of 2020.
Below is a summary of the estimated dates of construction at each site and alternative parking provisions to replace parking spaces displaced during construction provided by Bill Ferguson, Co-Director of Sustainability.  Please note that these dates are still subject to change depending upon a number of factors.


Our Neighbors: High school seniors produce documentary ‘Under Pressure’

Original post from Models of Excellence | EL Education –  

The documentary Under Pressure was created by the 2019 senior class from Four Rivers Charter School in Greenfield, MA and covers the September 2018  Merrimack Valley Columbia gas explosions and the natural gas industry in Massachusetts and nationally. The documentary film explores the complex truth of natural gas as an energy source as well as the struggles of local families and small businesses as they attempt to rebuild their lives after a disaster. The expedition spanned all four core classes and lasted from September to the film’s premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinema in February 2019.


We asked the teacher

What was compelling for your students about this?
The most compelling aspects of this expedition were that the students themselves chose the topic of the film and that they were ultimately responsible for the quality of a film that they would show to a full theater here in Greenfield then distribute far and wide via the internet. They put their names and the name of the school on this product and many of them decided that they were not going to accept anything below what they thought was their best work.

What were the challenges?
Having 30 people make one movie was the biggest challenge. This was the most intense group work experience many of them had ever done. It’s not easy to have a conversation with your colleague about a difference in opinion about what’s best for the project or to point out when you don’t think they are doing their share, especially when you’re 17 years old. We build learning targets into our lessons to help address these challenges and see them as part of the learning but recognize that it’s still tough.

What makes this particular piece a model for other students?
Video is a medium that saturates our lives whether we like it or not. We are constantly bombarded by it but unless students take the time to learn what is behind these images and sounds they might not know how much effort it takes to produce a quality video of any length. This documentary shows other students what is possible with a small budget and equipment available at just about any community television station. There was so much thought and effort that went into our film, I can see future senior classes here at Four Rivers using this film as a model for everything from B-roll and archival footage use, to narration and script and storytelling.

What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?
Give yourself plenty of time. The act of making a movie is a great motivating factor, and with a compelling story, the students will be engaged and driven to get the story out there. The hard part is getting the film done on time. A few years ago our movie finished exporting while folks were already in the theater, and since then we’ve gotten a little better each year about the timing, but it always takes more time than you think. To quote a professional filmmaker that our students work with, “finish the film. That’s the goal.”

Ask for a screening

Contact Cindy Mapes ([email protected]) from Mothers Out Front if your school or organization is interested in a screening the film, as the anniversary of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions is coming up.

In the news

Greenfield Recorder: High school seniors produce documentary ‘Under Pressure’
Consumers for Sensible Energy:

Resources: Energy Education and Management: A Foundation for Sustainable Schools and Districts

Original post from Green Schools National Network –  
Free Webinar: Energy Education and Management: A Foundation for Sustainable Schools and Districts
Monday September 23, 2019
4:00pm – 5:00pm ET
Hosted by our Western States Catalyst partners, this free webinar will focus on two exciting ways that energy can become a foundation for your sustainability initiatives. In the first half of this webinar, Tashanda Giles-Jones, from Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) in southern California, will share how her team used Energy as the Context for Deeper Learning. By leveraging local sustainability issues, ECS has developed a process that integrates field work, service-learning, and civic action to breath life into their curriculum and deepen learning. In the second half of this webinar, Ryder Delaloye, from Whitefish School District in Montana, will share how supporting teachers to Develop a Classroom Energy Management Plan has become an integral part of their District Energy Management Plan, using real-time data to benchmark and develop action plans that ensure the efficient use of resources in their schools. By engaging students in day-to-day operations and management, Whitefish has been able to save money, decrease its footprint, and increase student and faculty engagement.
This webinar is the first in GSNN’s new webinar series which will highlight best practices in green, healthy, and sustainable schools from our Catalyst Network partners.
The next webinar will be held on October 28, 2019 and will explore food systems. Up-to-date information on webinars and other GSNN events can be found on our Events Page.