Yesterday, I joined Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia and community leaders in Truro to celebrate a $141,200 Green Communities grant awarded to the town to fund the installation of anti-idling devices on police cruisers, energy audits, and efficiency measures at several municipal buildings including new boiler systems and new roof insulation. Truro is the second Green Community on Cape Cod following Mashpee, which was designated as a Green Community in 2010.
Last Friday, I was in Sutton with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, Commissioner Sylvia and community leaders to honor six more communities (Sutton, Sherborn, Mendon, Monson, Millbury and Holland) with grants totaling $902,675 for energy management systems and high-efficiency street lights, and weatherization upgrades.
In the third round of Green Communities designations, 21 cities and towns from across the Commonwealth became eligible for grants to fund local energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives that lock in long-term energy savings and protect our environment. The newest Green Communities have earned $3.7 million to fund projects that include installing solar panels on town office buildings and energy conservation upgrades such as efficient furnaces and windows.
Massachusetts continues to lead the country in clean energy policies and programs, with help from the 74 Green Communities across the Commonwealth. We’re counting on more communities to seek the designation.
Through the Green Communities Act of 2008, these communities will help the state reach its energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, while empowering communities to tackle their own projects and initiatives.
The DOER uses funding from auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reward these Green Communities. To be designated as a Green Community, cities and towns must meet five clean energy qualification criteria. These include establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a plan to reduce use by 20 percent within five years, purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, and minimizing life-cycle energy costs in new construction by adopting energy-saving building codes. The DOER provides a $125,000 base grant to each community, offering additional amounts based on per capita income and population. Awards are capped at $1 million.
The newest batch of 21 Green Communities are Ayer, Bedford, Brookline, Buckland, Carlisle, Deerfield, Granby, Middlefield, Revere, Shutesbury, Somerville, Tewksbury, Topsfield, and Woburn, plus the seven mentioned above.
The Green Communities Designation and Grant program and the Leading by Example program are just two examples of Massachusetts’ commitment to a clean energy future. With these communities playing a critical role in establishing Massachusetts as a leader in energy efficiency innovation, Massachusetts was named number one this fall by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's annual state-by-state energy efficiency scorecard. See Secretary Sullivan’s recent blog post.