Tool to calculate benefit of rooftop solar in Cambridge, Mass


21 Responses to “Tool to calculate benefit of rooftop solar in Cambridge, Mass”

  1. bzishi says:

    The city of Cambridge, Mass has teamed up with MIT to produce a Solar Tool that allows people to type an address into a website and get a detailed account of that roof’s solar electric potential.

    Ha ha!

  2. invictus says:

    Oh, that is *shiny*.

  3. W.G. Pringle IV says:

    • GeorgeMokray says:

      The Cambridge Solar Tool seems to have a higher level of detail, does not require you to login, and is not connected to any single provider.

  4. Jason Baker says:

    I notice the map appears to be loading a second set of orthophotography over the default Google Maps imagery for some areas, and was curious, why? The default imagery for this area seems to be summer time (leaves on trees), and the added overlay is in the winter (no leaves on deciduous trees). Does it take the differential into account, and consider which roofs might be shaded in the summer but clear in the winter? I thought that might be the reasoning, but the site says they get foliage data from LiDAR (perhaps using multiple returns?), not image classification, so I’m not really sure what role the second imagery set plays. Just using it for the greater resolution?

    Posting here in case the devs happen to notice they got Boing’d.

    • Alstan Jakubiec says:

      Hi Jason,

      The orthophoto imagery is used because the default Google maps imagery is not orthographic, but has some perspective shift. This makes the visualization of the data not match up with the rooftops of buildings unless an orthophoto is used.


    • GeorgeMokray says:

      Some of the people at MIT who developed this program previously developed a daylight and shading tool, DaySim, at Harvard.  I suspect that they used that tool to generate the annual shading patterns from trees and other roofs but I could be wrong.

  5. technogeekagain says:

    Pity it’s Cambridge-only (for now?).

    • GeorgeMokray says:

      London and Singapore are interested in doing the same kind of thing and are talking with the folks at MIT now.

  6. It’s funny that it’s developed at MIT but starts out centered on Harvard.

    • GeorgeMokray says:

      In Cambridge, everything is centered on Harvard first. 

      Christoph Reinhart used to be at Harvard but switched over to MIT.  Maybe it’s a holdover from his Crimson days.

  7. Robert Becht says:

    No wonder they don’t have time to come out with a new album.  

  8. hey man ! we put that online 2,5 years ago: !

  9. BonzoDog1 says:

    Whenever I look out an airplane window on landing approach and see all those south-facing roofs of suburbia I see a resource for our energy future. Even at current per-watt prices for photovoltaics, it’s an economic option for cutting peak demand in air-conditioning-dependent cities, if only legal and utility policy obstacles were removed. Instead we build centralized solar stations in deserts miles from consumers, which defeats one of solar’s strongest assets.
    Without a national effort to reduce cost of photovoltaics, I suppose we’ll have to wait for China to produce solar cells that cost no more than conventional roofing material.

  10. Flashman says:

    Does it calculate how hard it will be, how long it will take and what it will cost to convince the local planning authority, the architectural heritage review board, the council and all the NIMBYs to let you have these solar panels?

    • GeorgeMokray says:

      DOE is streamlining solar permitting and inspection procedure in the US on a national basis with a program called Solar 3.0 that they have just started to roll out.  Germany is far ahead on this process.  There will always be problems with NIMBY and with solar rights disputes but we can start the process anyway.

  11. It’s not centered in Harvard but on the Cambridge Common. We decided this was the most ‘representative’ spot… Plus, we are Harvard grads… :~)

  12. SamSam says:

    Cool! I see that my roof is one of the least PV-friendly of all the roofs around it, yet it still would pay for itself in 6 years and represent a 17% ROI. Tempting!

  13. MoDe Studio says:

    See more about the process and project. and Our demo video here:

  14. MoDe Studio says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments!

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