Northern Essex Buys Solar Power From Newark St. Rooftop

More than 2,200 solar panels cover Leewood Realty’s entire 93,000 square foot roof.

Northern Essex Community College’s (NECC) Haverhill campus will soon be receiving electricity from a Newark Street rooftop solar array, saving $250,000 over the next 20 years.

The college will also benefit from a “living solar lab” as part of the agreement with Leewood Realty, 60 Newark St., which recently completed the second phase of its renewable solar energy project. The project added a 267-kilowatt system in partnership with Hopkinton-based Solect Energy Development.

“This agreement represents the best in a public and private partnership. NECC will be purchasing discounted renewable energy, saving more than $250,000 over the course of the 20-year agreement,” said Leewood’s Peter Schwarz. “NECC will purchase 300,000 kilowatt hours per year, offsetting approximately 500,000 pounds of CO2 each year and 10,065,000 pounds over 20 years, helping NECC towards its goal towards achieving climate neutrality,” he added.

Leewood now possesses the largest rooftop solar project in Haverhill with more than 2,200 solar panels covering the entire 93,000 square foot roof. The electricity generated is being sold at a reduced rate via a net metering purchase agreement with NECC.

Students, Faculty Also Benefit From ‘Solar Classroom’

Leewood’s Peter Schwarz.

Leewood’s Peter Schwarz.

Schwarz created a solar classroom atop the Leewood roof. He explained he seeks to share his excitement with a younger generation of students who might consider careers in the solar energy industry. He will provide students and staff rooftop tours of the solar system each year, and contribute $2,000 to an annual scholarship for the next 20 years for green courses. In addition, Leewood will buy a touch-screen monitor displayed in a lobby at NECC that displays the real-time energy produced and carbon saved.

Schwarz said that the company’s mission has always been to take care of the environment and has worked over the years to create the greenest possible environment for the building’s tenants. Earlier efficiency upgrades included a new reflective roof, infrared warehouse heaters, motion sensor warehouse lighting, replacement of all larger windows, low flow bathroom fixtures and more, he explained.

“Leewood Realty is a very forward-thinking company when it comes to creating green buildings,” said Matt Shortsleeve, senior director at Solect. “Peter’s commitment to the environment has not only created a highly attractive space for his tenants, but also a terrific hands-on educational experience for the students at NECC.”

The first phase of the project supported the building and tenant electricity use, but for the second phase, Leewood wanted more. “From Day One, Leewood Realty has been a green company, and every day we look for new ways to make our building more sustainable for ourselves and our tenants,” Leewood said. “Expanding our solar energy system made incredible sense, not only from a financial perspective, but also from a green perspective. By partnering with NECC, we’re helping to create the next generation of environmentally conscious people.”

As part of the project, Leewood is also able to take advantage of state and federal tax and financial incentives, including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are financial incentives based on the amount of solar energy their system generates. Electrical utility providers in Massachusetts purchase SRECs to help them meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources.