Clean Power Blog

One of the more common critiques that we at MassCEC hear over and over again from employers is that students need to be receiving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at a younger and younger age in order to prepare themselves for jobs in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy.

To help tackle this challenge, the Greater Lawrence Technical School is using funding from  MassCEC's Learn and Earn pilot program, which enables high school students to participate in paid internships at their respective high schools and work on clean energy projects over the summer months. Students at Greater Lawrence are currently working on ground-level practice roofs installing solar electric systems, with their final project being a fully-functional solar array at their school.

Greater Lawrence is a prime example of a school using all of the resources available to it in order to better prepare its students for the future. Leveraging expertise from the recent Solarize Andover initiative, as well as local employers and educational partners, Greater Lawrence aims to take advantage of the community’s experience with installing solar systems so that students can learn about the technology that comprises the largest segment of renewable energy employment in the Commonwealth. Crucially, this program also seeks to alleviate another common major issue: teen summer unemployment.

On a hot summer's day, one can't blame an office worker on Boston's waterfront from looking longingly out the Harbor, dreaming of getting out on the water to beat the heat.

But now, imagine using the chilly waters of the Harbor to actually cool those nearby office buildings through the dog days of summer.

The technology is already in use in Toronto, where a company called Enwave has partnered with the city to tap into Lake Ontario to cool municipal offices and other downtown buildings.

Enwave's system pumps cold water from the freezing depths of Lake Ontario and uses it as the cooling water for air conditioning systems in Toronto's Financial District, with enough capacity to cool 34 million square-feet of office space - a space equal to about 300 blocks of Manhattan.

Though the systems can be rather costly up front, they can provide savings over time through reduced electric costs. In fact, the Toronto system uses 85 million kilowatt-hours less per year than a conventional cooling system – a number equal to electricity needed to power more than 11,000 average Massachusetts homes each year.

The success of installations such as Enwave's in Toronto brings up an interesting possibility when considering about the issues of efficiency and environmental impact on a local level.

What if a similar system could be built along the Boston waterfront?

Could the chilly waters of Boston Harbor prove useful in offsetting the energy used by the large amount of commercial office space in the city?

As they view and critique the paintings and other artwork on display, visitors at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum may not realize that the building not only stretches up towards the sky – it also digs deep into the ground.

In 2012, as part of a larger project involving extensive renovation and the construction of a new wing, the museum drilled eight 1,500 foot geothermal wells and installed energy efficient ground source heat pumps, which will provide heating and cooling for the new wing and the historical museum palace.  

Energy efficiency is especially important to museums such as the Gardner, which typically use a substantial amount of energy because it is essential that they maintain a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees in order to preserve their collections.

With their new ground source heat pump system, the Isabella Stewart Gardener museum has been able to maintain this precise temperature using the most energy efficient technology available to them. The museum has been LEED Gold certified, the second highest rating energy and water saving buildings can receive.