Woods Hill Table: Mixed Greens
Solar Electric System
“It was an easy decision to choose New England Clean Energy for our project because of their expertise, thorough communication, and local roots.”
Expansive solar arrays catch the eye as you approach Woods Hill Table in Concord, Massachusetts, neatly expressing the philosophy of the restaurant’s owners, husband and wife Jim and Kristin Canty, and Kristin’s parents Chuck and Gloria Clough. The owners embrace high standards for fresh food, green energy, and sustainable practices. The solar energy systems, designed and installed by New England Clean Energy, are taking a big bite out of energy expenses at the restaurant.
Kristin is the Director/Producer of the documentary film “Farmageddon; The Unseen War on American Family Farms”, which explores the relationship between small family farms and the government. With her passion to connect the environment, farming, and food, it’s no surprise that plans for Woods Hill Table included a variety of green measures.
The vision for the restaurant began taking shape in 2013, with a decision to purchase a building that for 80 years served as a supermarket in vibrant Concord center. Because of its historical significance, they opted to renovate, rather than rebuild the structure.
Given their knowledge on the rapid advancement of solar energy technology, the owners were definitive about plans to include solar to reduce costs and maximize energy efficiency in the restaurant. They met with a few solar energy companies, and Canty explains it was an “easy decision to choose New England Clean Energy for the project because of their expertise, thorough communication, and local roots.”
The result: An expansive system on three roof faces, designed and installed by New England Clean Energy. The owners chose all-black SunPower 335’s for the 81 panels on the highly visible street side of the building, and the more powerful, “black-on-white” SunPower 345’s for the two less visible roof faces. The system uses SolarEdge inverters and optimizers, which allow each solar panel to produce the maximum amount of electricity possible for the amount of sunlight shining on it.
Renovations complete, the restaurant opened in March 2015. As service at the 150-seat restaurant ramped up, so did the solar energy system, which covers 50% of the electricity needs at Woods Hill Table. Within a few months, the owners were thrilled to achieve even greater savings with their first SREC check of $3,000.
While the solar energy system provides cost savings at Woods Hill Table, it is also creating a buzz among those who enjoy the restaurant. Canty finds that patrons often comment on the solar energy system, and are curious to learn about the cost benefits, a topic on which she is happy to converse.
As planned, the Cantys and Cloughs employ other earth-friendly concepts at Woods Hill Table, and all contribute to the exceptional cuisine and efficiency in the restaurant.
To meet their high standards for sourcing food, the family bought a 260-acre farm in Bath, New Hampshire – the Farm at Woods Hill. The cattle, chickens, pigs, and lambs that they raise for the restaurant are all rotationally grazed on pasture and in the woods. The Woods Hill Table chef highlights the connection between delicious food and earth-friendly farming by serving creative, seasonally focused cuisine. The Farm itself also utilizes some solar energy applications, with more to come, as they dig deeper into the farming operation.
Adding to the mix, Canty has initiated a thoughtful zero-waste policy. Regarding food, it promotes the concept that the entire animal be used in the restaurant, possible in part by savvy planning: the ability to source Woods Hill Table from their own farm, and use of their custom, in-house refrigerated butcher room. It also includes awareness of the amount of garbage produced. They compost all food and paper, and are working with vendors to ensure everything that comes into the restaurant is compostable or recyclable.
The solar panels that adorn the Concord restaurant, along with other green practices, are an important part of the dining experience at Woods Hill Table. They have fulfilled the owners’ mission to balance proper practices, efficiency, and delicious food in a welcoming space.