Project Case Study: Solar Thermal Project - Binnall House

Lesson: Patience and diligence pays off when looking to fund alternative technologies.

Background: This 134 unit property enjoyed the benefits of a solar hot water system installed in the 1980s. Over the last few years, however, the 30-year old system had started to corrode and lose efficiency. Management was eager to repair or replace it.

Strategy: RPM had implemented a number of efficiency projects prior to looking into refurbishing the solar thermal system at this property. When these were complete, we began exploring a comparable solar hot water system as well as a combination system that would generate electricity and heat. To keep costs at a minimum and to be more sustainable, we requested that components of the legacy system be kept where possible. This included the rooftop racking system, roof to mechanical room piping, and solar tank. Even with reused components and utility and tax incentives, however, the overall cost remained prohibitive.

Outcome: Standard utility incentives were not enough to make retrofitting this legacy solar thermal system cost effective. Persistence paid off and we were able to leverage a grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy, which covered the entire cost of upgrades.

RPM's Role:

  • Identified and secured funding.
  • Supported installation and follow-up monitoring.

At the time of this project, RPM had been working with the Schochet Companies for several years. Previous RPM projects at this property included lighting upgrades, refrigerator replacements, and no and low cost measures. A boiler replacement project is underway.