On March 18, the Newton City Council approved solar panels at the Newton Free Library and at Brown Middle School! Newton students’ support for these projects helped to persuade a few councilors who were previously somewhat undecided. Green Newton applauds the Councilors for adopting these new sites for solar panels and for approving the other energy saving installations around the city.

The Brown Middle School revised proposal removes a canopy originally planned close to the trees at the edge of the parking lot, placing it instead at the front of the entrance to the school. This means only one tree rather than 20 will be removed.

–At the Newton Free Library, revised plans would create approximately 36 new parking spaces and improve drainage in the parking lot. Newton’s Director of Urban Forestry Marc Welch estimates that seven of the 12 trees in the parking lot are small enough to be moved to accommodate the solar canopies. While seven trees would be cut, over 60 new replacement trees will be planted.

The following information was provided by Ward 2 Councilor Jake Auchincloss in advance of the council’s overwhelming vote in favor of these two sites:

More solar panels on public sites will green municipal electricity by 20% more and save $500K+.
Since 2013, Newton has installed solar arrays across 12 municipal sites. Newton South High School and the Rumford Depot are two examples. The city now generates 21% of its electricity needs from these solar panels, saving $650K in FY2018.

Sixteen more municipal sites are in the queue. The ground-and-roof-based arrays will increase solar to 41% of municipal electricity. Two companies are under contract to design, finance, maintain, and operate the installations. The city buys the electricity for reduced cost, saving hundreds of thousands per year.

Across all sites, the city will move 15 trees; cut 13; and plant 140. Carbon reduction, each year, will be equivalent to the sequestration by 2K+ acres of forest.

Here are the buildings to host solar panels on the roof: Ed Center, Fire Station headquarters, Zervas, Angier, Cabot, Carr, Williams, and F.A. Day. The mayor and city council have approved all these sites.

Here are the parking lots to host solar canopies: Ed Center, Memorial Spaulding, Mason Rice, Oak Hill, Brown, Newton North (Lowell Ave and Walnut Street), Pleasant Street lot in Newton Centre, and the Newton Free Library.