News & Events

MNA goes green(er)!

Installation of solar panels compliments existing energy efficiency/recycling programs

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2009 Edition

Let the sun shine: Solar panels on the roof the MNA headquarters in
Canton will produce 35,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

The MNA—an organization that has long been environmentally aware and active—recently completed installation of 165 solar panels on the rooftop of its Canton-based headquarters. The newly installed system, which was funded in part by Commonwealth Solar through the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, is expected to produce over 35,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

“This is an extremely beneficial way to help the organization keep costs controlled while always being thoughtful about the environment,” said Julie Pinkham, the MNA’s executive director.

The installation

Solar panels use light energy (photons) from the sun to generate electricity through photo-voltaic (PV) effect. The sunlight that the MNA’s PV system is converting seamlessly supplies power to its Canton office. Any excess electricity is fed back into the power grid to be reused by the MNA whenever the organization’s needs exceed the output of the solar-panel system. The system will offset approximately 61,250 pounds of carbon per year and it will increase the dependability of the power grid by generating electricity at the MNA offices rather than having to purchase it from conventional sources.

In terms of make-up, the MNA’s PV system consists of 165 solar panels manufactured by Evergreen Solar, a Marlborough-based company that manufactures and markets solar powered products. The panels are mounted on the roof of MNA headquarters with a ballasted mounting system that requires no penetrations of the roof membrane.

Additionally, the “inverters”—which converts the direct current electricity from the solar panels to alternating current, synchronized to the power grid—were manufactured by Solectria Renewables, Inc. of Lowell. “Not only were we able to do our part to improve the environment, but installing this system has allowed us to support our local economy,” said Pinkham.

A summary of MNA’s solar efficiency

“We enjoyed making this project a reality for the MNA,” said Herb Aikens, president of Lighthouse Electrical Contracting, Inc., the organization that managed the project. “It was an ideal installation, one that can be used as a model for any office building in the commonwealth.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the system and the installation,” said Shirley Thompson, director of the MNA’s division of operations. “We just wish that we had a larger area on our roof so that we could produce even more power.”

Working closely with Thompson was Roz Feldberg, an associate director in the MNA’s division of labor action. Feldberg brought considerable expertise to the project, having had supported numerous green initiatives in the past.

Active on all fronts

The MNA is also actively involved with an internal recycling program that includes the responsible recycling of several thousand pounds of paper waste and dozens of toner cartridges each month. Its preferred vender of office supplies, Staples, keeps the MNA updated on how its purchases make a difference in the fight to protect the environment via an annual environmental report. Additionally, the MNA recently installed automatic sensors in place of traditional light switches in each office at its Canton headquarters as a way of helping to conserve energy (funded in part by a grant from NSTAR).