Solar Energy Strikes at the EpiCenter

Northern Power Systems has been hired to engineer, build, and commission an advanced, solar-based, on-site power system for Artists for Humanity (AFH) at the non-profit organization’s new EpiCenter facility at 100 West 2nd Street in South Boston, Massachusetts. The custom-designed, 48-kW turnkey power system will gather clean, sustainable energy from the sun using an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on the building’s rooftop. It will be the largest such roof-mounted PV panel array in Boston.

Waitsfield, Vermont – October 8, 2003 [] By supplying load support and peak power, the system will help AFH to spend less money on electricity and more on the programs the organization provides. A nonprofit organization working with urban young people in the Boston area, AFH empowers youth with art and entrepreneurship by providing education and employment in the fields of fine art and graphic art. The group needed a new facility and purchased a derelict building at the 100 West 2nd Street location. Demolition of the old building began in May, with construction of the EpiCenter scheduled for completion in April 2004. Northern is currently working on the design of PV system and will begin its construction in the second quarter of 2004, anticipating completion of the system in late spring. Designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind, the building boasts numerous design elements that AFH hopes will combine to create energy autonomy. In addition to the solar power system, the design includes such energy-saving elements as super-insulated exterior walls to generate heat retention, “low-E” glass high-thermal performance panes and south-facing windows, maximum natural light infiltration, occupancy lighting sensors in common areas, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and a recovery system to redistribute excess heat from manufacturing spaces, grouped computer terminals and other heat sources. Northern will design, engineer, and install the rooftop systems, which will use ASE-300 photovoltaic (PV) modules. With a rated power of 300 Watts, the ASE-300s are the world’s largest and most powerful PV module. SMA Sunny Boy 2500 AC inverters were selected to invert the solar-produced electricity from DC to AC. According to Artists for Humanity Executive Director Susan Rodgerson, the solar power system is a key element that supports the organization’s goal of creating an environmentally conscious and cost effective green building. “As social entrepreneurship innovators, we are excited to apply the principles of social mission and business-like discipline to the design, and operation of our new facility; and the rooftop solar system from Northern epitomizes this spirit,” Rodgerson said. “By involving architects, developers, and designers to channel our youth’s energy, creativity, and vision, we are creating a cost effective and ecologically responsible workspace for AFH’s commercial and fine artists.” Artists for Humanity worked on the building development with the contracting and engineering firm of T.R. White, which acted as the organization’s representative for the project. T.R.White had worked with Northern Power Systems on another PV and building monitoring system at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. A committee, including representatives from Artists for Humanity, T.R. White, Arrowstreet (the project architects), and Mark Kelley III (the environmental consultant), chose Northern to be the PV contractor. To fund the EpiCenter project, AFH received nearly US$4,000,000 in contributions and pledges, including a $200,000 challenge grant from the Garfield Foundation and contributions from other individual, corporate and foundation donors. In addition, a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) will help cover costs associated with incorporating renewable energy into the new headquarters. The organization also worked with MassDevelopment to finalize bond financing for the project.
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