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March 20, 2012

Southborough Real Estate Firm Expands Solar Use

Southborough-based real estate firm Capital Group Properties is installing a land-based solar photovoltaic (PV) system on a roughly four-acre parcel at 150 Cordaville Rd. in Southborough that will help power 11 buildings, company officials said. Capital Group's leasing manager, Jamie Merrill, said the project - located near the intersection of routes 9 and 85 - is one of the largest in MetroWest.

The one-megawatt system will include about 4,000 solar panels, project developer Solect Energy Development LLC of Hopkinton said in a statement. Solect was hired by Capital Group to install the system for the buildings, which include a mix of retail and corporate tenants such as Automated Building Systems Inc., Inside Playground LLC and Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.

Previous Partners

This will be the second time in two years Capital Group has broken ground on a MetroWest solar project using Solect, said Merrill. In 2011, Solect installed a 140-kilowatt solar PV system at Capital's office location at Discovery Way in Acton.

And last time, the job presented different challenges, she said. According to the Solect website, the 660-panel project went live in December. It was roof-mounted, said Merrill, which extended the timeline a bit. "They had to replace the roof first, so it was a multi-step project," she said.

With ground broken about two weeks ago at the Southborough site, land clearing is next on the agenda, said Merrill.

The result will be a switch to renewable energy that is more about environmental responsibility than saving money for Capital Group, said Merrill. Though she did not know how much the system would save the firm in money over time, she did say Capital Group expects the system "to provide enough for our buildings or greatly offset" energy costs.

But Capital's main motive, company officials said, is environmental stewardship.

"Capital Group Properties is creating a model which other property management firms and property owners can embrace," Jim Dumas, principal at Solect Energy Development, said in a statement. "Their commitment toward protecting the environment by using renewable solar energy is commendable. And because they were able to take advantage of federal and state incentives, a project of this size became financially and operationally feasible as well."

The site was originally slated for another office building a few years ago, said Merrill. Then, the company switched gears. Now, "clients in our buildings can feel good about the company they've partnered with for retail or corporate, Class A office buildings and plazas," she said. "We're doing our part to reduce our global footprint."

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