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.