Clean Heating and Cooling

Clean Heating and Cooling


Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning

Clean Energy

Clean Heating & Cooling


Using technologies such as solar thermal and high efficiency air source and ground source heat pumps reduces the role of traditional heating fuels, often decreasing the amount of money spent on those fuels and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their combustion. Significant opportunity and need to offset traditional heating fuels exists as part of a systems-wide approach to addressing climate change. Buildings’ direct fossil fuel use, which is largely for space heating, accounts for nearly a third of all of Massachusetts’ GHG emissions. In light of this, there are a range of incentives, from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) clean heating and cooling rebate programs to the Massachusetts Alternative Portfolio Standard incentive that municipalities and residents can utilize.

MAPC is working to bring these technologies more easily to municipalities in the region. In partnership with Meister Consultants Group, a Cadmus Company, MAPC launched an innovative collective solar hot water pilot procurement for two communities as part of the MassCEC Solar Thermal Challenge in 2017.


MAPC will publish a series of resources to educate municipalities on technologies, funding and financing opportunities for clean heating and cooling. MAPC will also be available to provide technical assistance with clean heating and cooling procurement, local program campaigns for residential and commercial sectors, and grant exploration and project management for municipal projects.

Pilot Municipal Solar Procurement

The MassCEC Solar Thermal Challenge program seeks to expand the market for solar thermal in Massachusetts through a series of pilot installations that utilize MassCEC rebate programs for solar thermal feasibility studies and installations. MAPC has partnered with Meister Consultants Group, a Cadmus Company, to launch an innovative collective solar hot water pilot procurement for two communities.

The overarching Solar Hot Water Outreach program features pilot solar thermal programs and outreach for each of three target sectors; residential, commercial and industrial (C&I), and municipal. The solar thermal market is currently comprised of relatively small, local companies in Massachusetts. Through these pilots, MassCEC and its project partners, like MAPC, have been collecting best practices for the different sectors and developing case studies and tools to make these models replicable and scalable across the Commonwealth.

From MAPC’s initial market research, we determined that the most feasible buildings for solar thermal should have:

(1) High hot water use,

(2) Consistent hot water needs throughout the day, and

(3) At least some hot water use year-round, since the summer demand can be a big factor in sizing the system. There are also some surprising use cases for solar thermal, like the ice skating rink in Winthrop, which turned out to have significant hot water use from the Zamboni and shower facilities.

In the pilot program, MAPC split the solar thermal project procurement process into two parts: a Request for Proposals (RFP) for feasibility studies and an Invitation for Bids (IFB) for installation. This approach could serve to make it easier for a wider range of vendors to bid, and to give municipalities a better idea of which sites would be economically feasible.

For the feasibility study RFP, MAPC required that the vendor apply for the MassCEC feasibility study grant on behalf of the municipalities, and to conduct at least one week of water metering onsite. The latter requirement proved to be useful during the selection process to determine the capacity of vendors to conduct studies at multiple sites within the desired timeframe.

To respond to the IFB, MAPC required vendors to 1) participate in a pre-bid walkthrough of the facilities so that they could see the space and measure, 2) prepare a narrative on the choice of equipment, and 3) provide a plan for the installation of storage tanks and plumbing. One main difference between solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal projects centers on the location of the rest of the system components, those other than the collectors or panels that capture and distribute the heat. MAPC recommends examining what space is available for this equipment within a facility and having vendors speak to someone familiar with the building to inform their proposal.

Since the solar thermal market in Massachusetts is still relatively small, the need for clear and well-organized procurement documents is even greater in order to simplify the process whereby qualified vendors can bid. Toward this end, MAPC put together a solar thermal incentives calculator. We then required vendors to use this calculator when responding to the IFB in order to establish standard assumptions in the estimation of Alternative Energy Credits (AECs) and MassCEC grant amount totals. In this way, we were able to consider the net cost after incentives in the selection process. The range of prices for each AEC is expected to be between $15 and $25. However, as the exact cost of AECs for solar thermal remains uncertain within the nascent AEC market, we encourage communities to use a conservative estimate for that value in the calculator This resource as well as template procurement documents are provided above.


What's Next

The City of Chelsea and Town of Winthrop are each working to negotiate contract language with New England Solar Hot Water, now that it is the formally selected vendor through the completed M.G.L. Chapter 30 §39M procurement process. The sample contract included in the IFB will serve as the foundation for that language and hopefully support and expedite the contracting process. Contracts will then be executed between each municipality and the vendor, and installation will follow.

MAPC has recommended to both communities that they continue to work with Meister Consultants, a Cadmus Company, through at least the contract execution process, as part of Meister’s current contract for the MassCEC Solar Thermal Challenge. Following the conclusion of Meister’s services as part of the MassCEC Solar Thermal Challenge, MAPC has recommended that both communities consider hiring an Owner’s Agent, whether Meister or another, to help guide them through the installation process, ensure that the contract and timeline are adhered to, and troubleshoot issues as necessary. MAPC will also continue to provide technical assistance when possible. See below for more information about Owner’s Agents.

Solar Thermal Resources

Using an Owner's Agent

Cities and towns would be well advised to consider hiring an Owner’s Agent to advise them throughout – or at least at key points during – the process of procuring and implementing a solar thermal system. An Owner’s Agent is a clean energy expert working on behalf of a city or town in order to help the municipality to assess bids from vendors, answer technical questions, and ensure the municipality’s interests are fairly represented in the resulting contract and implementation. As solar thermal projects are still fairly new to municipal facilities in the Commonwealth, an Owner’s Agent can be an asset to municipalities as they navigate the process.

To procure an Owner’s Agent, a municipality can solicit quotes via the statewide contract PRF-62, or complete a similar process through Chapter 30B. As the total contract with the Owner’s Agent will likely be less than $10,000, the municipality would generally follow sound business practices. Many communities find it useful to request an hourly rate and then set a cap either on the total not-to-exceed amount or per task. For support on solar thermal projects, a community should make sure that the procured Owner’s Agent has experience with solar thermal projects, siting, pricing, contracting, and engineering as well as with municipal clean energy projects in general.

Procurement Templates

Request for Quotes for Feasibility Studies
Invitation for Bids for Installation Template
Solar Thermal Incentives Calculator


Solar Thermal Webinars

MAPC held two webinars about municipal solar thermal procurements. The first is an introduction to Solar Thermal technology and the Solar Thermal Challenge. MAPC’s second webinar is about the procurement models used in the 2018 pilot program and lessons learned. You can view the slides and recordings from these webinars below:

January 18th, 2018: Municipal Solar Thermal Procurement Pilot
Webinar Slides

May 9th, 2018: Municipal Solar Thermal Templates and Lessons Learned
Webinar Slides

Together, we can transform the MetroFuture Plan into a reality.

Clean Heating and Cooling Workshop

In 2017, MAPC and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) hosted a Clean Heating and Cooling Workshop for Municipalities at Roxbury Community College in Boston. The half-day workshop featured a range of clean heating and cooling technologies suitable for municipal facilities, including air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, solar hot water, and biomass heating, and provided an overview of successful project applications, incentive programs, market trends, and opportunities for residential and commercial adoption. The workshop sought to equip attendees with the information and tools to bring clean heating and cooling technologies to their facilities and community. The event concluded with a tour of the Roxbury Community College geothermal project and solar parking canopy.

Workshop Materials

Peter McPhee, MassCECIntroduction to Clean Heating and Cooling Technologies

Josh Kessler, MassCEC | Funding and Financing CHC Projects

Meg Howard, MassCEC HeatSmart

Jeremy Koo, Meister Consultants Group (MCG) | A Market Assessment of CHC Technologies

Harold Meyer, Ameresco and Tony Ransom, DCAMM | Roxbury Community College Project

Bruce Ledgerwood, ABCD | Case Study: Air-Source Heat Pumps

Larry Lessard, Achieve Renewable Energy | Case Study: Ground-Source Heat Pumps





For more information, please contact Cammy Peterson, Director of Clean Energy at