Historic School-Turned-Lofts in Jamaica Plain Adds Solar PVCategory: Project Updates
In spring 2015, Zapotec Energy completed a solar PV system on the roof of the newly renovated Off Centre Lofts apartment building in Jamaica Plain. The historic building, located next to the former Blessed Sacrament Church, is now home to 21 apartment units and powered by a 15 kW solar PV system.
A Brief History:
The building, previously known as the Norbert School, was used by the City of Boston’s COMPASS academic program. In 2009, the program relocated, leaving the building unoccupied for over five years.
Dave Traggorth, the Director of Development at Traggorth Companies LLC, managed the renovation of the school, transforming it into three stories of market-rate loft apartments. Despite the building’s historic status and relatively small roof area, Traggorth approached Zapotec to design a rooftop solar energy system.
After the roof’s initial inspection, the engineers at Zapotec predicted that it would be able to hold about 25 kW of solar PV. However, extensive HVAC equipment and vent pipes installed on the roof toward the end of the renovation put a limit on the number of panels that could be accommodated. This change lowered the system’s overall power rating to 15 kW from 25 kW. Currently, the entire system is expected to produce 16,870 kWh of electricity each year.
Given these constraints, the design engineers at Zapotec were able to maximize the size of the system by keeping the panels at a low angle. In addition, the use of Enphase micro-inverters allowed Zapotec to work around the variable shading conditions caused by the mechanical equipment on the roof.
The solar PV system at Off Centre Lofts is on track to meet Zapotec’s production estimate in its first year of operation. Since its installation, the PV system has produced 12,128 kWh and still has over four months to generate the remaining electricity.