The Green Room
Solar Field To Light Up Longwood This Summer
Over the past two years, Longwood Gardens has made a strong commitment to sourcing and utilizing renewable energy based on an organization-wide strategic focus on environmental stewardship.
If you’ve visited the Gardens recently, you probably noticed construction work on Longwood’s property by the Route 1 northbound entrance ramp and Greenwood Road. This isn’t just any development project—in fact, by June 2011 this will be the finished site for Longwood Gardens’ 1.5 megawatt solar field.
This solar field will offset Longwood Gardens’ energy consumption by nearly 20%, will be the largest example of clean emission-free energy in the area, and will reduce the Gardens’ annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1,367 tons. The project site covers approximately 10.7 acres including associated equipment and site improvements. Longwood Gardens has an overall goal to acquire 3 MW of solar in multiple installations by 2018, the first 1.5 MW is considered “Phase I.”
Longwood Gardens’ Director of Facilities Mark Winnicki and solar field project leader is excited to see the project come to life.
Winnicki says, “This is a win, win, win situation. It’s a win for Longwood because it will reduce our energy consumption, energy spending, and will still be aesthetically beautiful. It’s a win for our long-term project partners because Longwood is leading the way as the first public garden on this scale to construct this size of a solar field. And it’s a win for our community because the solar field will serve as an education tool for Longwood visitors.”
Additionally, Winnicki is most impressed by how quick the construction and implementation stage of the project is coming together.
“We’ve been planning this solar field for the past two years, and it’s impressive to see that all those hours of planning translates to just three months of construction,” he says.
The construction that you can see right now includes fixed ground-mounted structures on which the solar (or photovoltaic) panels are installed.
Although this is a groundbreaking alternative energy project, Winnicki says that Longwood is also committed to making the solar field site a thriving meadow with native plant life. “During the research phase of this project, we were dedicated to choosing a non-intrusive solar panel system. All of our partners understood that the site had to be a home to plants, too. After construction is complete we will experiment with native plants that will perform well and thrive in the shade under the solar panels.”
Winnicki says Longwood Gardens will begin to use the energy produced onsite by these solar panels after the solar field is completed in June 2011. Bookmark our website
to stay up-to-date on project details. Until the project is complete, normal construction work hours are from 7am to 5pm Monday through Saturday.