Coming to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in 2009 after more than a decade in Plymouth town government, including four years as town manager, I saw great promise in the budding new Green Communities Designation and Grant Program. I believed then as I do now that the best decisions are made at the local level, and saw the Green Communities program as a catalyst for energy leadership by cities and towns. But, appointed as the first Director of the DOER’s newly-minted Green Communities Division, I consciously tempered my expectations – aware that the mandatory benchmarks spelled out in the Green Communities Act of 2008 set a high bar for municipalities seeking the designation. How many would be able to meet these benchmarks?
As it turned out, the cities and towns of Massachusetts were more than up to the challenge. An impressive 35 cities and towns applied for and earned Green Communities status in our first designation round in 2010 – compelling many of us in state government to revise our expectations of the program. Fast forward two years and we have just surpassed the 100 mark, with the designation of 17 new Green Communities and a celebration with Governor Patrick and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary. With 103 cities and towns designated, 44 percent of Massachusetts residents now reside in a community that decided to buck the energy status quo and embrace energy efficiency and renewable power.
All told, the 103 Green Communities have committed to reduce the energy they use by an amount equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 13,358 homes. In greenhouse gas emission reduction terms, this equates to taking 22,556 cars off the road.
Becoming a Green Community requires bold vision and hard work. The milestone reached this week is a testament to the eagerness with which cities and towns, large and small, have rolled up their sleeves in support of a clean energy future. By investing in home-grown renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, the 103 Green Communities are supporting local jobs and growing local economies, while ensuring steady progress toward the Commonwealth’s nation-leading clean energy goals. As a former municipal official, the former director of this program, and a member of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s clean energy team, I could not be prouder of this diverse set of cities and towns.
Visit our flickr page to view more Green Communites photos.
Fish Need Clean Energy, Too posted on Feb 18
Running a fish farm is an intense operation, one that requires a lot of labor and a large amount of energy. Currently, the McLaughlin Hatchery uses a significant amount of oil to heat its facility. The facility is going to replace its oil furnace with a renewable energy heating system, a new high efficiency wood pellet boiler and pellet storage silo that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 92 percent, save an estimated $11,432 annually, and reduce annual oil use by more than 5,000 gallons.
Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs posted on Feb 12
Did you know that it is possible to heat buildings in the northeast using wood biomass, a renewable energy fuel? With nearly one-third of total energy costs going toward heating our buildings, it is no wonder that Massachusetts school districts are searching for cheaper and …Continue Reading Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs
Natural Wildlife Setting Enhanced by New Zero Net Energy Building posted on Feb 6
Constructing a commercial zero net energy building (ZNEB) is no easy task, especially one that is 45,000 square feet and sits in Massachusetts where the winters are cold and summers often hot and humid. This is why over 100 people gathered enthusiastically in December in …Continue Reading Natural Wildlife Setting Enhanced by New Zero Net Energy Building