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photo Amherst tree planting

Amherst tree planting

If you want to hear good news about energy in Massachusetts, let me introduce you to two state agencies, two colleges, four municipalities, and two extraordinary individuals. At a late October State House ceremony, the Patrick Administration presented awards to various public entities and individuals for Leading by Example in the fields of clean energy, energy efficiency, and overall environmental sustainability.

In the large category (pop. 35,000 or more), Arlington was honored for its diligent work to reduce its own energy consumption by at least 20 percent. The town is converting its streetlights to LEDs, and upgrading HVAC and other building control systems. It worked with Mass Save® to get 400 home energy audits. As a Solarize Mass community, in 2012 Arlington installed over 710 kilowatts (kW) of solar electric (photovoltaics or “PV”). The City of New Bedford received an award for its improvements in energy efficiency and energy conservation at eight of its facilities, expected to save over $400,000 annually. The city has also made strides in renewable energy projects: 4.3 MW of PV expected by the end of 2013 and eight new electric vehicle charging stations.

Amherst, a small municipality (pop. fewer than 35,000), was honored for its commitment to sustainability, exemplified by its efforts to plant 2,000 trees over three years, and its policy banning polystyrene products and containers in the municipal landfill. The town also received a $302,000 Green Communities Grant for a streetlight retrofit project that will reduce municipal electricity use by 270 megawatt hours (MWh) per year, saving the town $48,000 annually. Chelmsford was also honored for entering into a net metering contract to support significant renewable energy generation, and for adoption of hybrid and electric vehicle technology. The town plans to retrofit municipal buildings to be more energy efficient, and convert its 2,200 streetlights to LED.

Public Higher Education
Framingham State University’s Climate Action Plan received an award. The university just completed a $7.1 million energy project, which will reduce energy costs by a staggering $735,000 per year, decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by nearly 48,000 tons, and eliminate the use of more than 350,000 gallons of heavy oil. Greenfield Community College was honored as a standout in virtually every sustainability category. The college recently completed the installation of high efficiency HVAC, more efficient lighting systems, a solar thermal array, and a 77 kW solar PV system.

photo of DOER Commissioner Slvia, EEA Secretary Sullivan, Green Communities Director Lusardi (far right), with Arlington energy officials

DOER Commissioner Slvia, EEA Secretary Sullivan, Green Communities Director Lusardi (right), with Arlington energy officials

State Agencies
The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) lead by example through its $25 million comprehensive energy project at the Hogan Regional and Wrentham Developmental Centers. The project featured power plant upgrades, repairs to over 700 steam traps, combined heat and power installations, thermal installations, lighting and insulation upgrades, saving $3.2 million in energy use in the first year, and dropping GHG emissions by 77 percent. The Department of Environmental Protection exemplified the goals of the Leading by Example program for its Wall Experiment Station. The lab is the first LEED Platinum rated state building in the Commonwealth and the first Platinum lab anywhere that is not owned by Harvard University. The facility uses 40 percent less water and 21 percent less energy than a building built to the standard building code.

An individual award went to Nantucket’s Lauren Sinatra. In her time as Nantucket’s Energy Project and Outreach Coordinator, Lauren has overseen a 1,000 percent increase in Mass Save program participants and the installation of six public electric vehicle stations. She also drafted the winning proposal to make the Nantucket Airport carbon neutral. The final award at the ceremony was given to Paul Piraino of UMass Lowell, who oversees UML’s climate action plan, its $9 million utility budget, and who has a long list of accomplishments including energy efficiency projects, energy contracts, on-site renewables and net metering contracts. His efforts save UML well over $1 million per year.

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Silas is in an intern working with DOER’s Green Communities Division for the 2013 fall semester. He is in his second year of graduate school, studying to get his masters in urban and environmental planning at Tufts University. A New Englander born and bred, Silas grew up in Maine before moving abroad to Scotland for four years to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Development at the University of St. Andrews. His academic focus is on climate change, with a growing emphasis on disaster preparedness, but he is still deciding on what to do with that after he graduates. Silas enjoys reading, hiking, and cooking lots of delicious things, and loves fall for the sports, the leaves, the cider, and the butternut squashes.

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