Solar array on a rooftop in Salem

The city of Salem was recognized for its sustainability efforts today at the 12th annual Leading by Example awards ceremony at the State House in Boston.

Salem, designated a Green Community in 2010, is receiving a 2018 award for clean energy and sustainability leadership that includes an active Sustainability, Energy, and Resiliency Committee, 27 energy efficiency projects (including LED streetlight retrofits) that save an estimated 4 million kWh annually – the equivalent of removing 669 cars from the roads – a new environmentally preferable buy-recycled city purchasing policy, a growing citywide bike share program, and more.

The Department of Energy Resources’ Leading by Example program facilitates and promotes clean energy and sustainability initiatives. Salem is one of eight awardees being honored for policies and programs that advanced or resulted in significant energy and emissions reductions, renewable energy installations, water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and a host of initiatives that reduce environmental impacts associated with state and municipal operations.

“As much as Salem is known for being one of America’s greatest historical communities, we are also forward-looking,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “As a coastal city, it is vital that we take appropriate actions to mitigate potential threats that will be caused or exacerbated by climate change.

“Salem values policies and practices that are sustainable and environmentally sensitive. Whether it is converting our city street lights to LED fixtures, advancing electricity aggregation for consumers, replacing our city fleet with more efficient vehicles and increasing the energy efficiency of public buildings, or pursuing solar opportunities for school, municipal and private property, Salem is focused on strategies that will reduce our overall carbon footprint and lessen our community’s role in changing our planet’s climate.”

A screenshot of real time solar data from Witchcraft Heights Elementary School in Salem

The award comes as the city completes 921 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic power installed on two schools. The projects are estimated to save more than $115,000 in annual energy costs every year, with additional revenue from solar renewable energy credits estimated at more than $100,000 annually, according to the mayor’s office. The $3.3 million project was largely funded by a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy Resources and a $1.05 million grant from Footprint Power. A portion of the work was also made possible through city funds used for roof and related work.

“Not only is this system saving the city and school money, but it is also inspiring the next generation to think about socially responsible ways of producing energy without damaging their environment,” said John Pitcavage, president of Endless Energy, which worked with the city on the project. “We hope this balance between economy and the ecosystem inspires the students to continue working toward educational endeavors that benefit society and the earth.”

Salem has data from the arrays that residents, students and teachers can use to learn more about solar and watch the production. Links to the real-time solar data for both arrays can be found at www.salem.com/sustainability-energy-and-resiliency-committee-serc/pages/renewable-energy.

The Leading by Example awards were presented at a State House ceremony by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, DOER Commissioner Judith Judson, and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone.

“Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in clean energy with the help of state and local partners like those honored today for investing in initiatives to lower emissions and reduce costs,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a prepared statement. “The leadership, dedication and foresight of today’s awardees will have lasting benefits to the Commonwealth as we progress towards a cleaner, more cost effective and resilient energy future.”