We are excited to announce that we have gone solar! This February, SunBug Solar of Somerville, MA, began the installation of solar panels on the roof at our Headquarters in Plymouth. On March 22, we flipped the switch, activating our new system. The 75-panel array is projected to produce 24.6 kilowatts peak-rated direct current (DC) watts. That’s enough power to offset about 75% of our current annual use at our Plymouth headquarters.
Solar panels generate power through a series of small photovoltaic cells that convert the energy from sunlight into useable currents of electricity.
Going solar is a great way to reduce environmental impact, and at Manomet, we are always striving to find ways to help others do the same—from dairy farms to grocery stores and small businesses. Having the opportunity to make this big leap in our own energy efficiency gives us enormous pride, and we want to use our experience as a resource for others as they shift to cleaner sources of energy.
Our Senior Finance and Facilities Manager Mark Lafaver served as the project manager for our solar installation. He has some helpful tips for anyone who is looking to take on a project of their own.
Manomet’s brand new 75-panel array of solar panels
How did Manomet make the decision to go solar?
It is very important to Manomet that we not only advocate for businesses to reduce their environmental footprint, but also demonstrate the use of those best-practices ourselves.
We already compost most of our food waste onsite at our Plymouth headquarters, to be used later on our farm and in the garden. We make sure we source our food for events and meetings from local farms and vendors. We carpool to meetings whenever possible.
So incorporating solar power into our conservation efforts is a logical extension of our commitment to operating more sustainably.
As a nonprofit, how are you able to fund such a project?
Our Board was extremely supportive as we explored the options for reducing the environmental footprint of the organization. With their financial support, and with the knowledge that we might, over time, never see a power bill for our headquarters again, the decision was easy.
Your building is in Massachusetts. Do you actually see enough sunlight to make solar effective?
We have plenty of sunlight, all year! Looking back, the only thing I wish is that we had more south facing roof area to work with. What most people don’t know is that panels tend to work more efficiently in cooler weather, so even in winter, when we have fewer daylight hours, our panels will keep producing a significant amount of power.
What are the risks for going solar? Will there be any negative impact on birds or any other wildlife?
Before taking on this project, we engaged Director of Landbird Conservation Trevor Lloyd Evans to get his input on the possible effects a solar installation of this kind might have on birds. Any project will have some impact on the visual and natural landscape that wildlife navigate, but the impacts are minimal for a small-scale, roof-mounted installation like ours. Larger scale, land-based installations would need to be sited much more carefully, since they could cause negative impacts on longer distance migratory species that might mistake a large-scale, land-based installation with a convenient watering hole. Their appearance, from altitude, could be similar to each other, and there have been reports of mortality related to land-based installations. There have not been any reports of bird mortality related to roof-mounted solar that we are aware of.
What would be your number one piece of advice for anyone who is thinking about installing solar panels on their home or office building?
I would suggest that any individual or organization consider whether or not solar is the best place to invest financial resources in an effort to reduce environmental impact. It may not be the right choice for everyone. But since we could produce 75% of our current annual power consumption on our own, we saw a future where solar could immediately benefit in the near-term, while helping us structure other investments in efficiency over the longer term. Over the next few years, I would like to see Manomet continue to make investments in energy efficiency by upgrading our lighting systems, cooling systems, and appliances to get us to a point where we have 100% of our energy needs produced right here.
Manomet President John Hagan and Vice President of Finance and Operations Constance de Brun flipping the switch at Manomet Headquarters
If you own a small business and are looking to maximize your sustainability efforts, you can sign up for our free online tool: Root360. This online platform allows you to assess and improve your sustainable business practices, track your annual energy use, and learn what changes you can make to save money and conserve resources. Learn more at www.root360.org