The solar Sox

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From left: Bruce Johnson from National Grid; state Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Ian Bowles; Kevin McCollister of GroSolar, which installed the panels; Red Sox president Larry Lucchino; and Patrick Nye of Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The panels, which are affixed to the roof above the State Street Pavilion, are in the background.

I reported back on March 13 that the Red Sox were installing a solar hot water system, and this morning, they unveiled their 28 4-foot-by-10-foot panels to the public.

Larry Lucchino, my new best friend (he also spoke at an AIA-related event I attended at Fenway Saturday morning, and was the commencement speaker at my niece's graduation from BU on Sunday), said during a round of brief speeches that the panels are only one step in a five-year effort to make Fenway "one of the greenest as well as one of the most beloved parks in America."

Friday, the city gave evidence of that effort when it named Fenway one of its 12 greenest buildings. The list was devised jointly by the American Institute of Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, and the city, and unveiled by Mayor Tom Menino at the Children's Museum, which was also on the list. (The complete roster is below.)

Saturday morning at Fenway, I got to ask the obvious question: What's so green about a baseball park built in 1912? Can it have won its designation on the strength of just a few solar hot water panels? Janet Marie Smith, the mastermind behind the decadelong transformation of Fenway, said the club has taken a number of green actions, but asserted that the most significant step was its first one, when it decided to save the park instead of tearing it down and rebuilding elsewhere, with all the landfill-filling and new materials that would have entailed.

This point was also made this morning by Bryan Glascock, director of the city's environment department, when he said, "One of the greenest things you can do is historic preservation." He also noted that Smith has told him that 40 percent of the people who come to the game usep1000618.jpg public transportation.

Smith, in her comments Saturday, said the team has also devised a way to reuse the water that drains off the field, and has put enormous effort to recycle what fans discard during the game. "The time to process all the bottles and cardboard is enormous, and the space! That's the Achilles heel of recycling, the space."

The solar panels, meanwhile, are expected to replace more than a third of gas needed to meet its hot-water requirements, and save 18 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually.

A city staffer leaves the Children's Museum after Mayor Tom Menino unveiled the list of the city's 12 greenest buildings Friday. The green footprints painted at the entrance will mark the entire dozen, in recognition of their green steps. AIA uses the symbol as part of its "Walk the Walk" campaign, its effort to advance green initiatives.


In addition to Fenway and the Children's Museum, here are the other spots recognized for their various green efforts. Note that these are not complete lists of each building's green characteristics, and that no one criterion was used to form the list, so it is subjective:

The Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital used eco-friendly construction materials, emphasizes natural light, and has a ventilation system designed to keep latex allergens from ceiling spaces.

EpiCenter, Artists for Humanity, the first LEED platinum building in Boston, catches rainwater to irrigate its recessed courtyard and harvests daylight through large windows and other design decisions. Its cooling system uses no refrigerants.

George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center at Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center has geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic shingles, and a solar hot water system, and used environmentally sensitive building materials where possible.

Harvard Business School's Hamilton Hall adapted a structure rather than building a new one, and is fitted with environmentally friendly surfaces and energy-efficient windows.

John Hancock Financial Headquarters, at 601 Congress St., was one of the first buildings in the nation to use a double-skin window system, which decreases heat absorption in the summer and increases heat retention in the winter. It also has a landscaped green rooftop.

Terminal A, Logan International Airport, filters storm water, uses a roof membrane that deflects heat, deploys drop irrigation for its greenery and has energy-efficient windows.

The Lenox Hotel offsets all its electrical use, and was the first in the nation to offer guests the option of reusing towels and linens. It also chooses cleansers, air fresheners, and paints on the basis of indoor air quality.

The Macallen, a building of 140 condominiums in South Boston, is the only building to have made both this list and the year's top 10 green projects list of the AIA's Committee on the Environment, which were recognized in a reception at EpiCenter Thursday night. It won a LEED gold designation, and via technology, expects to save 600,000 gallons of water annually while using 30 percent less electricity than a conventional building.

One Beacon Street is certified silver under the LEED standards for existing buildings, and an Energy Star building as well. The landlord has upgraded lighting, heating, and cooling, taken water-conservation steps, and recycles about 55 percent of all building waste.

Ninety percent of the steel used to build WGBH's new headquarters was recycled, and uses motion sensors, UV-filtering glass, and motorized sunshades to save energy. It has dual-flush toilers and waterless urinals. And its green roof is being installed this week, making it the first building in New England to use solar and greef roofing, according to Karen Weber, the green roofer's local rep.

Sources: AIA or the Red Sox, except where noted.


Hi Michael,

Saw this post and thought you might be interested in meeting with Borrego Solar. They are presenting at the Clean Tech Expo next week, and will be in Boston from June 2-4. The are presenting specifically on "The Influence of Rebates and Incentives on the Solar Industry."

Let me know if you are free sometime early next week for a chat.


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