A Commitment to Sustainability: Berkshire's Solar Field
The new, two-megawatt, eight-acre solar field on East Campus went live in January 2012. The project developer PowerPlay Solar Development, constructed the field in collaboration with Spire Solar Systems. Scroll down for a time-lapse video of the solar field construction.
The project, part of an energy master plan developed by sustainability students and presented to the school’s trustees in the fall of 2011, is the largest solar installation in the state of Massachusetts and the largest operating solar facility of its kind at any private secondary school in the US.
Since connected with National Grid, the local utility, the solar field generates over 2,300 megawatt hours of clean electrical power its first year, or up to 40% of the school’s electricity needs. The privately-financed project features two different solar devices; fixed-tilt photovoltaic (PV) panels and single-axis tracking PV panels with room to add other solar demo-technologies in the future.
According to PowerPlay Solar, each year Berkshire’s solar field will remove nearly 2,650,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1,650 pounds of nitrogen oxide, and 4,400 pounds of sulfur dioxide from the atmosphere—or the equivalent use of 1.5 million pounds of coal annually. The project will also feature an energy investigations laboratory allowing students to analyze different solar technologies and monitor the output of the solar field per school building in terms of kilowatt hours of energy production, and pounds of carbon savings.
Berkshire was named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education recently for its efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and offer environmental education. Berkshire is one of just 64 schools in the nation to receive the distinction. Click here to read more.
Students in Ms. Xu's Chinese classes celebrated Chinese New Year at her house recently, making and eating their own dumplings from scratch and practicing their language skills. Click here to see a slideshow.
The school has a new tool to monitor and analyze real-time energy consumption on campus: an online Energy Dashboard that includes data from many campus buildings, as well as the two-megawatt solar field. Click here to learn more.
The new Math and Science Center, a 48,000-square-foot building that increases curricular space by 129%, is both smart and sustainable. By incorporating state-of-the-art design, the building is predicted to reduce energy consumption by 58.7% compared to standard buildings.
Cody Turner '13, a member of the Sustainability class, recently helped the school to initiate a no-idling policy. The new rule is now incorporated in the employee handbook and signs will be posted in key locations.