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Student activism leads Boston school to adopt solar

https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2022/04/25/student-activism-leads-boston-school-to-adopt-solar/

Student activism leads Boston school to adopt solar

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Students at the Winsor School in Boston, a daytime grades 5 to 12 all-girls college preparatory school, have taken matters of sustainability into their own hands, influencing the school to move ahead with a solar project that will cover 30% of the school’s energy needs and provide it with an estimated $28,000 in bill savings.

After meeting with local solar developer Resonant Energy, the student-led group called the Planet Protectors ran a petition drive and presented the project details to the head of the school. The presentation was well-received, as the benefits of going solar are multitudinous, and the Winsor Board of trustees gave the project the green light.

Head of School Sarah Pelmas looks out on the roof of the Lubin-O’Donnell Center to oversee the
installation of new solar panels.
Image: The Winsor School

“It was incredible to see the drive and initiative that spurred our students to take bold action,” said Head of School Sarah Pelmas. “They understand the risk of inaction, at a time when climate change has become an evolving threat to all of us. The upside to this investment is that it benefits Winsor and also our neighbors in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.”

The array is a 331 panel, 149 kWdc system expected to produce 175,000 kWh per year. Resonant Energy is expected to perform the racking, roof installation, and electrical work through this month.

The carbon offset provided by the system is estimated to be the equivalent of protecting 152 acres of forest per year. Forests are an important carbon sink, absorbing atmospheric CO2 into the structure of the tree, and respiring oxygen. Decarbonizing the energy system of the school was the main objective of the Planet Protectors, who understand the threats that human driven climate change poses to life across the globe.

An additional benefit that made it easier for the club to pitch was the significant cost savings the project will provide to the school. Bill savings are estimated to be in excess of $28,000 per year over the 25 year span of the project. The Massachusetts SMART program incentive boosted savings further, kicking in an additional $14,000 in revenue to the school per year for a 20-year period. In total, Winsor is expected to benefit from over $1 million in savings and revenues from the one solar array.

(Read: “Solar on schools: A smart solution“)

The Planet Protectors mission didn’t end with their own school’s array, however, as they want to share this model for student renewable energy activism with other students across Massachusetts. Students for Solar is a campaign developed to guide schools through the solar procurement process, outlining the many benefits therein. Learn more about how to support this in your community’s school here.

“What started out as an ambitious club project two years ago has become a real, concrete step toward fighting climate change,” said Winsor Class V student and Planet Protector club member Nika Bigelow ’25. “I’m sure I can speak for the whole club when I say that the elation I feel over the installment of solar panels on the roof of the Lubin-O’Donnell Center is unparalleled. It has been such a fun and rewarding process, and I am so thankful to have played a role in bringing about positive change.”

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