Welcome to Faces of Green Communities. We developed this page knowing from first hand experience that each of Massachusetts' designated Green Communities has its own "face" - demographics, geography, financial capacity and other features that make each one unique. Those attributes give each city and town different opportunities to implement clean energy initiatives while learning from common experiences within the Green Communities Designation and Grant program.
Please take this opportunity to look below at the brief profiles of many of these remarkable locales. You'll see cities and towns - perhaps your own community or ones like it - that are pursuing bold steps to reduce energy consumption, save taxpayers' money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Population: 10,200 (approx.)
An agricultural community known for its orchards of apples and peaches, Acushnet offers a varied landscape, from large expanses of woodlands to a compact village center. Although it borders the historic saltwater port city of New Bedford, Acushnet has a rural character that is enhanced by abundant fresh water. The Acushnet River runs through the valley in the center of town, while the northern end of town features two large ponds that comprise the New Bedford Reservoir – a body of water that no longer supplies drinking water for New Bedford but does supply Acushnet residents with ample good fishing.
Acushnet’s leaders decided to pursue designation as a Green Community for both environmental and financial reasons, desiring to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with municipal energy consumption while reducing municipal energy costs. Both municipal and school department officials also understand the potential for directing savings that result from energy efficiency projects into other areas of the budget. The town plans to use its designation grant of $154,225 for a variety of projects, most related to upgrading the efficiency of municipal lighting.
Population: 37,800 (2010 census)
Aesthetically, Amherst is a quintessential New England community. Rural in setting, it boasts a rich agricultural history which is evidenced by the many farms that create its pastoral landscape. Despite its size, it is home to three institutions of higher education, including the Commonwealth’s flagship public university, UMass Amherst (in addition to Amherst College and Hampshire College). The presence of these institutions provides a forum for performances and lectures, distinguished and noteworthy personalities. The confluence of these two characteristics makes Amherst unique in its ability to offer a wide range of cultural opportunities in a bucolic setting.
Amherst’s pursuit of Green Community status stemmed from a belief that achieving greater energy efficiency is morally the proper course of action. To that end, the town has been working towards increasing both energy efficiency and independence by implementing measures and creating strategies to achieve this goal.
Becoming a Green Community provided Amherst with the opportunity to identify, and therefore further address, its energy challenges. Collectively, the town’s buildings are its largest energy consumers. (The town’s single largest energy consumer is its wastewater treatment plant.) In addition, challenges exist for the Town Hall building itself, due to its age and historic significance. In understanding these challenges, the town can better strategize ways to reduce the energy consumption of its facilities. As is the case in most communities, Amherst has found it difficult to fund large- scale energy efficiency projects. Projects with the shortest payback period have been the easiest to finance, while larger ones requiring greater upfront capital have been more difficult to address. Becoming a Green Community gave the town access to funding to pursue some of these large scale projects – such as an LED streetlight retrofit. With access to additional funds, the town will be able to realize significant energy and cost savings with a significantly shorter payback period than if the town were to finance the project without this additional assistance.
Population: 31,648 (as of August 2012)
Incorporated in 1646 in Essex County, the town of Andover covers 32 square miles approximately 23 miles north of Boston, and is home of one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious independent secondary “prep” schools – Phillips Andover Academy, founded in 1770 by Samuel Phillips. Phillips Andover Academy alumni include such notables as former Presidents George Bush and George W. Bush, and former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr.
The town has an Open Town Meeting, is overseen by an elected five-member Board of Selectmen, is administered by an appointed professional Town Manager, and provides a wide array of services to the general public, including operation of its own water supply and sewer. Public transportation is available via two commuter rail service stations from Andover to the Metropolitan Boston area. The town offers opportunities to explore and enjoy the great outdoors with many trails, recreation areas and the 3,000- acre Harold Parker State Park. Andover’s unique combination of physical, economic, governmental and social attributes create a highly desirable community for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.
Andover has been implementing projects to save energy for many years, and designation as a Green Community was a natural fit. A combination of forward-thinking town officials and the growing “green” movement motivated Andover to seek designation as a Green Community. Several town department heads, including the Director of Plant & Facilities and the Director of Planning had individually sought out opportunities for “green” initiatives, while Andover residents had begun questioning town energy policies. As a result, the Andover Green Advisory Board was formed, allowing residents and town government to work together to advance “green” policies and initiatives.
Green Community designation added to our accountability and widened our scope. The challenge we now face is fine tuning our operations, increasing our data recording ability, and identifying further improvements. Funding energy improvements is always difficult, and finding the hours to commit to energy tracking, investigation, training, and benefit analysis are challenging without a dedicated energy manager. As we move toward more technical improvements, we need to provide town government and the public with a cost-benefit analysis to gain support.
Arlington is beautiful community that offers many benefits to both residents and visitors. Town residents benefit from the excellent school district, beautiful parks and recreational areas, and the close-knit neighborhoods that are a hallmark of the Arlington community. Visitors and residents alike also can enjoy Arlington’s cultural and restaurant offerings, as Arlington is home to two theaters and a number of restaurants serving a dynamic mix of worldwide cuisine.
As a community, Arlington is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable practices. Working to become designated as a Green Community has allowed Arlington to be recognized for its commitment to sustainability while enhancing those sustainability efforts by making the town eligible for
Green Communities grant funds.
Arlington’s biggest energy challenges lie within its aging facilities infrastructure. However, this challenge presents great opportunity in the upcoming years. Recently, the Highland Fire Station was renovated and was designated a LEED Silver Building. This has laid the ground work for Arlington to improve energy efficiency as it prepares to renovate/rebuild the Central Fire Station, Community Safety Building and Arlington High School over the course of the next decade.
Population: 1,737 (2010 census)
Ashfield is a small rural town in the eastern foothills of the Berkshires of western Franklin County. Ashfield’s vibrant town center is a historic district that includes a 75-acre lake. The town is otherwise largely wooded, with some farms and a surprising number of small businesses, given the town’s size and rural nature. Many residents commute to workplaces in larger communities nearby, and students attend schools in the Mohawk Regional School District.
The primary motivation for becoming a Green Community was the availability of funding for energy conservation projects. In small towns, it is difficult to fund projects requiring relatively large capital outlays (even though they may have paybacks periods of only a few years) since the annual budget is always consumed by more immediate, often mandated demands.
Ashfield is focusing its energy dollars on improving municipal building envelopes, especially in the wastewater treatment plant, town hall, and fire station. We will also begin to invest in equipment that will lower our energy use, such as more efficient furnaces, lighting and programmable thermostats. Some work on the town hall is already underway, including installation of storm windows; new, more efficient lighting fixtures; and programmable thermostats. Meanwhile, the wastewater treatment plant manager has identified options for dramatically reducing heating fuel use in the greenhouse portion of that facility.
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Population: 16,188 (2010 Census)
The town of Auburn is a vibrant community located at the crossroads of several major state and interstate roadways in the heart of Central Massachusetts. The town has a strong commercial/industrial base consisting of diverse industry sectors, including manufacturing, distribution, retail and service. Town residents enjoy an excellent quality of life, which includes a first-rate school system, a stable economic base, a strong transportation network, and an array of recreational facilities, including the new Dr. Arthur and Dr. Martha Pappas Recreational Complex. Auburn has several industrial and business parks, numerous commercial clusters and a major retail shopping mall. Its daytime population swells to more than double that of its resident population, with an estimated 32,498 people in the town during the day. This is a strong indicator of Auburn’s commercial/industrial employment base, further strengthened by the fact that Auburn has the largest number of jobs (9,940) in the Central Thirteen Region – a collaboration of 13 Central Massachusetts municipalities participating in a regional planning effort.
The town of Auburn strives to identify and implement strategies that will reduce our energy costs and encourage the use of renewable energy. In pursuing Green Community designation, the town sought to develop strategies that would result in the reduction of energy use in its municipal and school facilities and fleet, provide opportunities to utilize renewable energy, protect the environment, and result in cost savings to the town. The Department of Energy Resources’ Green Community Program provided the mechanism for the town to reach its “green” goals and objectives.
Auburn has undertaken a number of initiatives that will provide opportunities to become more energy efficient and reduce town energy costs. The town is awaiting the results of a meteorological (MET) test tower installed over a year ago to collect data to determine the feasibility of installing a wind turbine. In addition, Auburn recently executed a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement for a proposed solar facility and executed a Net Metering Credit Agreement with the developer to reduce our electric costs. The town has also embarked on a number of comprehensive energy audits that will enable us to prioritize energy saving measures that will generate significant savings. Upon successful implementation of the town’s “green” initiatives, it is estimated that Auburn will save $6.1 million over 20 years.
A hill town located in Berkshire County, Becket features much of the natural beauty of the Berkshires, with the Appalachian Trail running through the town on the way to Mount Greylock. Becket is home to 1,800 year-round souls who brave winter in the Berkshires. In summer, the community swells to 8,000 when the many second home owners come to spend the weeks bookended by Memorial and Columbus Day, although most leave by Labor Day. The community also hosts many summer camps, which bring youth from around the world for recreation and summer camp jobs.
Like most communities, the town of Becket organized an Energy Committee to examine the
town’s use of energy, its consumption and potential ways to save taxpayer monies. When the Green Communities application process presented itself, the town used these same individuals to serve on a Green Communities Committee. Designation as one of the Commonwealth’s first Green Communities enabled the Town to take on projects that it might not have otherwise pursued. When a previous Town Administrator developed project did not go forward, it became obvious that buy-in by various stakeholders is crucial in seeing projects succeed. This broad effort ensures that projects are done expeditiously by achieving consensus amongst stakeholders. The limiting factors for projects are the confines of our combined imaginations!
The town of Becket recently looked at its seven municipal facilities for potential energy upgrades (Becket Town Hall; Fire Station #1; Fire Station #2 and Ambulance Garage; the Becket Highway Department Garage; the Becket Washington School, which is managed by the Central Berkshire Regional School District; and the Mullen House and the Becket Arts Center). The latter two facilities are leased to non-profits that provide historical education services or art classes to year-round and summer residents and visitors. Using federal Stimulus funds and town monies, the Fire Station #2 and Ambulance Garage underwent an energy retrofit with a new Viesseman Propane Boiler, sprayed-on open and closed insulation, and reconfigured the space for energy conservation. On the advice of the volunteer Fire Department, Fire Station #1 did not undergo any renovations. The buildings leased to non-profits did need to be rehabilitated and Community Preservation Act monies were used toward this end.
The remaining two facilities – the Town Hall and Highway Garage – received energy audits using Green Communities funds, and projects were developed to deal with energy issues. The priority project, the Becket Highway Garage, will receive an energy retrofit involving construction of a new roofing frame over the existing leaking roof and use of sprayed on insulation between the two systems with siding for the building. This innovative approach should enable this structure to last for a number of years.
The Becket Town Hall project is presently on hold, pending additional funding.
Bedford was motivated to pursue Green Community designation in order to gain access to grant funding for energy efficiency projects, and to set an energy reduction goal through the adoption of a five-year energy reduction plan. Among the town’s biggest energy challenges are getting municipal building occupants involved in reducing energy use, and the need for daily monitoring of energy use to quickly respond to equipment failure that results in an increase in energy consumption. The town sees the greatest opportunity in the use of utility company vendors to do a variety of energy efficiency projects in order to maximize incentive payment and expedite completion of the work.
First incorporated as a town in 1630 and as a city in 1822, Boston is one of America's oldest cities, with a rich economic and social history. What began as a homesteading community eventually evolved into a center for social and political change, and has since become the economic and cultural hub of New England.
As the region's hub, Boston is home to over 617,000 residents, many institutions of higher education, some of the world's finest inpatient hospitals, and numerous cultural and professional sports organizations. Boston-based jobs, primarily within the finance, health care, educational, and service areas, numbered nearly 660,000 in 2002. Millions of people visit Boston to take in its historic neighborhoods, attend cultural or sporting events, and conduct business.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino is pleased to join and support Governor Deval Patrick’s leadership role in making Massachusetts a model for sustainability. Mayor Menino has provided leadership by setting aggressive goals of reducing Boston’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, and passing the first citywide green building standards in the nation. Becoming a Green Community enabled the city to take advantage of regulatory tools, such as passing the stretch building energy code, and additional resources to meet our aggressive GHG goals. The Environment Department has also benefited greatly from the robust energy managing tools offered by Mass Energy Insight, developed by the DOER Green Communities Division. In addition, grant funding through Green Communities has allowed the city of Boston to invest in a variety energy efficiency measures including control switches for natural gas streetlights, remote lighting controls at municipal ball fields, and a new energy management system for the central Copley Library and four library branches - saving over $200,000 in energy costs alone.
Looking ahead, Boston’s biggest energy challenges lie in its abundance of older buildings and infrastructure, as well as in motivating behavior changes on the part of building occupants. Meanwhile, clean energy opportunities abound in the city’s innovation, start-up, and education sectors.
Population: 26, 563 (2010 US Census)
Bridgewater was chartered in 1656 and grew as an agricultural and manufacturing center. Foundries developed in the northern area of downtown produced iron for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, while shoe, nail and brick manufacturing businesses emerged in the late 1800s, employing hundreds of former agricultural workers from the region, as well as and immigrants.
Today, Bridgewater is a growing community of over 26,000 people. Its central location at the interchange of State Route 24 and Interstate 495 provides convenient access to Boston, Providence and Cape Cod. Located eight miles south of Brockton, 27 miles south of Boston, and 29 miles northeast of Providence, Bridgewater is bordered by East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater on the north, Halifax to the east, Middleboro to the south, and Raynham to the west. The town hosts the oldest and largest state college (a university since 2010), as well as a complex of four state correctional facilities. Bridgewater State University has a full-time enrollment of almost 12,000 students and 700 employees. The Bridgewater Correctional Complex has approximately 2,000 inmates and over 1,000 employees. They are two of the largest employers in town.
Bridgewater lies within the Taunton River Watershed, the second largest watershed in Massachusetts. The southwesterly flowing Taunton River (which gained federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River in 2009) begins at the confluence of the Town and Matfield Rivers north of Mill Street and eventually empties into Mount Hope Bay. Rivers are the most predominant hydrographic feature within Bridgewater, with these three rivers nearly encircling the town. The 14-mile-long Town River flows from Hockomock Swamp north of Lake Nippenicket through West Bridgewater and back into the northeastern side of town. It meanders east until it meets the Matfield River flowing south from East Bridgewater. Their convergence forms the Taunton River, which defines the eastern and southern boundaries of Bridgewater. Priorities to protect rivers and significant tracts of sensitive lands often expand into adjoining communities. The Hockomock Swamp Area of Critical Environmental Concern comprises 16,800 acres the towns of Bridgewater, Easton, Norton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater.
Consistent with its concern for the local environment, Bridgewater was motivated to become a Green Community in part out of recognition that fossil fuels are a limited long-term energy source and there is a need to both reduce energy consumption and become less dependent on fossil energy as a town, state, region and country. Bridgewater also wanted to address high municipal energy costs in a time of limited municipal income (balancing income and outlay to ensure town services are protected and enabled), and reduce energy costs for future home and commercial construction (i.e., stretch energy code and beyond). While acknowledging challenges inherent in reducing energy use in our aging municipal buildings, Bridgewater also sees opportunity – particularly in restoration and modernization of the Academy Building and Town Hall. Other opportunities include reducing street and traffic light energy consumption.
Population: 58,732 (2010 census)
The town of Brookline is a highly desirable place to live, due to its proximity to job opportunities, excellent public transportation and school systems; and livable neighborhoods that balance green space, historic preservation, and outstanding commercial services. It is also home of the best bagels in New England. Surrounded by the city of Boston on three sides, Brookline consists of roughly six square miles of land.
Brookline’s motivation to become a Green Community stemmed from recognition of the environmental interests of town’s population, and well as its desire to be eligible for grant opportunities to fund new clean energy projects. Brookline sees both challenges and opportunities in encouraging alternative modes of transportation, pursuing energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings of all types, and installing solar on both municipal and private roofs in the town.
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Chelmsford is a scenic, bedroom community with close proximity to the city of Boston, the Atlantic coastline and the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. Founded in 1655 as a farming community, Chelmsford values and preserves its open space and historical landmarks. Chelmsford has two town beaches, a bike path and many beautiful trail systems that are maintained by volunteers. The people of Chelmsford have a strong focus on education, culture and community engagement.
Chelmsford pursued Green Community designation to save energy, and do what’s right for the planet. The town also recognized the opportunity to save money and reduce municipal operating expenses, while upgrading its systems and infrastructure.
Chelmsford views the age of its municipal buildings and their systems as both the largest challenge to energy conservation, and the biggest opportunity for savings. Several buildings date to the 1900s and 1920s, and many of the schools were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The town has seen great success in replacing boilers and heating systems, windows, and lighting systems, with good financial return. Chelmsford also used its Green Communities designation grant to install a 30 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Parker Middle School, and federal stimulus funding for a 21 kW solar PV project at Chelmsford High School. The School administration building, which houses the data center for the entire school system, presents the next large challenge, given its capacity and the need for continuous cooling operation.
The town of Chesterfield is a rural recreational hill town between Northampton and Pittsfield. The town was laid out in 1739, and sites were granted to King Philip's and King William's war veterans in 1740, but initial settlement of the town did not take place until around 1755. The town center was established after the Revolution and well-preserved Federal Period houses are still present along Main Road – making Chesterfield a charming New England town.
The town has many scenic areas, most notably, the Chesterfield Gorge. The Gorge is a remarkable natural formation that allows visitors to experience both the region’s geologic past and its recreational potential. The ancient rock emerged from the seabed a half billion years ago, and then was carved for thousands of years by glacial action and roaring meltwater. The dramatic rock canyon features 70-foot-high walls carved by centuries of rushing water from the East Branch of the Westfield River. Today, this stretch of the Westfield River attracts walkers and cyclists, photographers and anglers.
For an old town, Chesterfield has a forward-thinking population. The residents have recycled for years and believe strongly in reducing the town’s carbon footprint. Becoming a Green Community was a big step in allowing the town to not only improve efficiency in municipally-owned structures, but also allow residents to make improvements to their homes through the Chesterfield Green Communities Residential Home Energy Efficiency Fund.
Chesterfield’s biggest challenge is efficiently heating its older buildings, which need energy-saving improvements such as addition of insulation, and replacement of windows, doors, and heating systems.
Located at the confluence of three rivers, Concord was once a brisk colonial trading center that served as a Mecca for the exchange of opinions and ideas. Although the town still prides itself on its rich contributions to American history and literature, it is a thriving, living community that is not frozen in that history. Within Concord’s borders today there are eleven religious institutions, two prisons, a national historic park, a state park, a national wildlife refuge, a hospital, an excellent public school system, four pre-college private schools, a host of museums and other visitor sites, a respected research library, an active farming population, three bustling town centers, and a population of mixed ages and backgrounds.
In recent years, Concord has utilized a municipal sustainability trust fund to complete heating-system upgrades, weatherization and energy-efficient lighting projects in town buildings. Significant opportunities remain to realize additional energy efficiency gains and develop renewable energy-generation facilities at or near municipal facilities, especially in Concord’s public schools. The Commonwealth’s Green Communities program will help Concord maintain momentum, further reducing municipal energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Concord’s first Green Communities grant will be used to replace two inefficient, gas-fired boilers with high efficiency condensing boilers, boiler controls, variable frequency drives and building automation controls at the Peabody Middle School. Concord has embraced its designation as a Green Community and is enthusiastic about expanding the reach of its community energy goals.
The town recognizes an opportunity to stimulate more energy efficiency activity in the commercial sector, which uses more than half of the consumed electricity in Concord, by developing and marketing incentive programs that target businesses. Finally, about half of the town’s households heat with oil. Helping these households reduce their use of carbon-intensive home heating oil is another important opportunity for Concord.
Located just outside of Boston and blending elements of urban sophistication with small town flavor, Dedham is a classic New England town. The original settlers wanted to name the town “Contentment,” but were overruled by the Massachusetts General Court and the town was named after the town in Essex England where the original inhabitants were born. Dedham was and still is an innovative community, with early residents building the first American canal, the first tax-supported public school, and the oldest existing timber frame house in North America, the Fairbanks House. Home to distinctive pottery crackle-glazed in a blue-and-white color scheme with motifs of rabbits and other animals, Dedham has been referred to as the "mother of towns" because 14 present-day communities were once included within its original broad borders.
Governed by a Town Meeting form of government, Dedham has been recognized by both state and national organizations. In 2012, America’s Promise Alliance declared Dedham as one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People in America." Our 2010 Commonwealth Capital Score ranked us as one of the top 15 communities in the state, and we were recognized in 2009 with the Commonwealth’s Leading by Example Award for our outstanding efforts to implement comprehensive policies, programs, and strategies resulting in significant and measureable environmental benefits. The list of our accomplishments continues, but, in brief, what this signifies is a community that is united in our mission to care for our youth, invest in our future, and protect our environment.
Dedham was eager to become a Green Community for the environmental and economic benefits that were associated with this designation. The economic benefits included a reduction in energy consumption and associated energy costs, as well as the grant funding associated with becoming a Green Community. The environmental benefits followed similarly with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The recognition for becoming a Green Community carried with it the honor of being a sustainable community and a leader in the Commonwealth. The momentum from the designation has carried through to other town projects and has been a catalyst in seeking additional grant funding.
Through the Environmental Department and the Sustainability Advisory Committee, Dedham has launched the Sustainable Dedham Initiative to educate Dedham residents and encourage energy conservation and sustainability by addressing the long-term impacts of fossil fuels, such as pollution and climate change. In the five years since this initiative was launched, the town became a Green Community, installed solar arrays on the High School and Town Hall with a combined output of 152 kilowatt hours, completed an energy savings performance contract for all municipal and school buildings, implemented a comprehensive Climate Action Plan, partnered with Next Step Living to launch a residential energy efficiency program, partnered with the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts to create a Green Business Leader program, converted to Single Stream Recycling and Automated Trash Collection and completed a study of pedestrian and bicycle improvement opportunities. The investment in these initiatives shows Dedham’s commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs, while increasing the community’s knowledge of sustainability issues.
The biggest challenge the town faces today is funding for future initiatives. The success of the Sustainable Dedham Initiative is directly tied to our ability to seek out and be awarded funding to complete such important work. The well for future funding is not guaranteed and, given the imminent threat of global warming, this is of great concern not only to our community, but to the Commonwealth and our nation as a whole. We will continue to take proactive steps towards securing the town’s energy independence and reducing harmful emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels, but those will be measured based upon funding to enact such programs.
Easthampton considers itself a model small city of the 21st century. It retains its mill town soul, while fostering innovation. Community members treasure the abundant resources, dynamic downtown, and vibrant neighborhoods. By adapting, evolving, and making tough choices, Easthampton is sustainable, inclusive, balanced, and a great place to live.
Easthampton’s motivation for becoming a Green Community, thereby qualifying for Green Communities grant funding, grew out of a need to provide basic public services, while adapting to the ongoing economic reality of the 21st century and coping with a budget deficit caused by ten years of reduced state aid.
The biggest challenge to meeting the city’s energy reduction goal under the Green Communities program is the fact that we’ve been implementing energy conservation measures since long before being “green” became popular – meaning that much of the low-hanging energy efficiency fruit has already been addressed. The best opportunity for immediate energy savings is in the introduction of LED lighting.
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Population: 23,000 (2010 Census)
Easton is unique for many reasons, but particularly because of its vast and beautiful open spaces. These include Easton Conservation land, Borderland State Park, and the Natural Resource Trust Sheep Pasture. The town’s historic resources are certainly also part of what makes this community special. These most notably include North Easton Village and the Ames Shovel Works. The town’s community-wide “green” initiatives aim to effectively support and sustain these unique characteristics. Such efforts are made at all levels of municipal government, and throughout residential and business sectors. These, and many other factors, make the town of Easton both a wonderful place to live and a lovely place to visit.
The myriad motivational forces behind Easton becoming a Green Community (and sustaining this designation) include the strong support of its town officials, projected cost savings, reducing Easton’s carbon footprint, decreasing our overall impact on the environment, and also the hope that the “green” efforts of this one community can serve as an inspiration to many others.
Easton’s challenges when it comes to reducing energy use and emissions involve upgrading older HVAC systems, implementing and sustaining energy conscious behavioral changes, and developing clean energy sources that are suitable for the community. The town is also currently focusing on the challenge of developing an LED street light conversion project for 1450 utility-owned street lights. Opportunities that assist Easton in successfully addressing energy efficiency challenges include the Green Communities grant program, utility company collaboration and incentives, and - most certainly - community participation in and support for these efforts.
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Population: 17,456 (2010 Census)
Located between two natural gems, the Connecticut River and the Berkshire foothills, Greenfield is comprised of a bustling downtown, and a mixture of farmland, industry, and quiet residential neighborhoods. Defined in its charter as a “town,” but operating as a city, Greenfield has preserved historic downtown buildings by incorporating them into local businesses and homes, and is home to a section of the historic Mohawk Trail. The growing municipality boasts a brand new regional transit center, with proposed Amtrak service along the Burlington-New York- Washington corridor.
Among the first 35 Massachusetts cities and towns to gain Green Communities designation in May 2010, Greenfield’s motivation for achieving greater energy efficiency is both moral and economic. Prior to becoming a Green Community, the city had begun converting its capped landfill into a solar array that now satisfies approximately 40 percent of Greenfield’s municipal electricity needs. The city also had a municipal energy audit completed in 2008, which identified recommended energy improvements.
Greenfield put 10 percent of its Green Community grant toward appointment of an Energy/Sustainability Coordinator in the Greenfield Department of Planning and Development to oversee Green Community grant use and projects. One such project is the Greenfield Energy Efficiency Program, which provides 0 percent deferred payment loans to eligible homeowners in the grant target area in an effort to reduce low- to moderate-income residents’ heating bills. So far, the program has helped eight homeowners to install energy efficiency measures. A portion of the Green Community grant has gone to paying down nine completed municipal energy savings performance contract projects, such as improving energy efficiency at Greenfield Middle School. The city also hired an energy firm to produce a study on the feasibility for Municipal Electric Load Aggregation.
Looking ahead, Greenfield plans to move forward with Municipal Electric Load Aggregation, and will also continue its partnership with the Greenfield Housing Authority to designate federal Community Development Block Grant target areas in order to address challenges associated with the city’s antiquated housing stock. Nearly half of the Greenfield’s housing units were built prior to 1939, and, as a result, require energy efficiency improvements in addition to updates required to meet the current building code. Green Community grant money will allow Greenfield to pursue both efficiency and code updates synchronously.
Plentiful open space and the shores of Monponsett Pond lend a rural feel to the town of Halifax, a quintessential Southeastern Massachusetts suburb of 7,500 residents. Despite lacking a traditional downtown and proximity to major roadways, Halifax succeeds in creating a sense of community, with residents gathering for traditional annual events such as “Holidays in Halifax” and Fourth of July celebrations. But Halifax’s small town nature created some challenges when the town decided to apply for Green Community designation. With a limited number of volunteers already maxed out working for other boards and committees, municipal department heads and town officials stepped up to the plate and added to their existing workloads to put a sharper focus on the town’s energy needs.
An additional challenge for Halifax is the fact that a significant portion of the municipal energy budget comprises diesel and gasoline used in municipal vehicles that, in many cases, are exempt from the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program’s Fuel Efficient Vehicle Policy because suitable energy efficient replacements aren’t readily available. Due to this, the Halifax is doubling down on building electricity and heating efficiency work in order to meet its Green Community energy reduction goals. The town is using its initial designation grant to reduce electricity use and improve heating systems at the elementary school, and will then move on to do the same at other town buildings.
Regardless of the challenges, Town Administrator Charlie Seelig considers Green Community designation a “win” across the board. “It literally makes local government more efficient and enables residents and taxpayers to use the dollar savings for new programs or to cut taxes,” he said. “But it also makes the municipality more self-sufficient, especially with efforts to build renewable energy resources. That means that cities and towns are not as dependent on what is occurring nationally or internationally in the energy markets or how political events affect those markets.“
Holyoke is situated at the crossroads of New England, at the intersection of Interstate 90 and Interstate 91. Holyoke contains a spectacular diversity of environments within one community, from an urban core with rich historical architecture and history to rural agricultural land and protected conservation land that comprises more than 40 percent of the city’s land area. Holyoke also contains a rich, diverse population with incredible pride in our community, making it a place like none other.
Holyoke was built on renewable energy and has embraced its roots through doing all that it can to create a sustainable community of the future. The city’s quest to become a Green Community stemmed from understanding the need to continue to make improvements, upgrades, and efficiencies in order to work toward a completely sustainable community with reduced energy consumption and carbon-free energy generation.
As one of the first planned industrial cities in America, Holyoke was built on water power with a hydroelectric facility placed at the location of a 57-foot drop in the Connecticut River, with 4.5 miles and three levels of canals to fully maximize the power of the river. This resource provided Holyoke with the power to become the “Paper City” and at one time among the wealthiest cities in the world. Holyoke is now embracing the challenge to return to its roots to promote the city’s “green” sustainable features. Holyoke’s municipal utility that has worked hard to achieve 80 percent of its retail electricity generation through carbon-free sources and continues to work on adding renewable sources and reducing consumption.
The town of Hopkinton was established in 1715 and gains widespread media attention each year in April when the internationally-known Boston Marathon is run. Runners from all over the world gather on Main Street to begin their 26.2-mile run in what is always a colorful and exciting event. Hopkinton's resourcefulness and spirit is shared by town residents, the local business and industrial communities, who volunteer and participate in town government and contribute generously to community projects and programs. All play a part in carrying on the town's nearly 300 years of history and tradition as a caring place to live.
Public and private recreational facilities in town include Hopkinton State Park, Whitehall State Park, the town beach on Lake Maspenock, fishing, tennis courts, playgrounds, the Saddle Hill Country Club and the YMCA. Cultural events include the Hopkinton Polyarts Festival, Fourth of July parade and bonfire, and the summer concert series on the Town Common. The town is proud of its community-supported educational system, its new, expanded, recycling facility and its leaf composting program.
In an unusual welcoming gesture, the Board of Selectmen writes a letter to new residents describing Hopkinton's facilities and programs and urging them to involve themselves in town affairs as part of "warm and friendly Hopkinton." Hopkinton is also the highest point in Middlesex County.
In becoming a Green Community, Hopkinton was motivated by its passion to preserve the Commonwealth’s environment and future energy independence. Additionally, becoming a Green Community will assist us in reducing expensive energy bills, updating older infrastructure and becoming a model community for implementing energy conservation measures.
Hopkinton’s biggest energy challenges include implementing energy conservation measures, modernizing older facilities, reducing expensive energy bills and becoming more energy independent. With this in mind, the town of Hopkinton has developed a plan that will achieve 21.09 percent reduction in energy use over five years, compared to a baseline of calendar year 2009. This will be achieved by a reduction of 22.90 percent of the 51,247 MMBTUs used by municipal facilities and a 9 percent reduction of the 7671.7 MMBTUs used by vehicles. Additionally, the town is proactively taking advantage of state- and federal- sponsored opportunities, such as the “Solarize Massachusetts” program and several Green Community grant opportunities, to help residents, businesses and town government to implement energy conservation and clean energy measures. To date, the town has received over $250,000 in grant assistance. The “Solarize Hopkinton” program netted over 50 solar contracts, which will produce over 300,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy.
Population: 10,602 (2010 Federal Census)
Home to numerous waterfront vacation homes, farms and the former Ted Williams Baseball Camp, Lakeville blends country charm with easy access to city amenities in both Boston and Providence via interstate and MBTA commuter rail. This Plymouth County community, named for the chain of broad and picturesque lakes that occupy approximately 4,000 acres of its 36.16 square miles, was part of Middleborough until splitting off and incorporating as a separate town on May 13, 1853.
Municipal leaders in Lakeville were motivated to pursue Green Community designation as a way to control and reduce rising energy costs, while demonstrating to the community at-large the steps needed to achieve greater energy efficiency. In addition, Lakeville wanted to demonstrate environmental and fiscal leadership among its neighboring South Coast communities. Once designated, the town chose to use its Green Community grant to fund projects that highlight practical approaches to reduce energy consumption and costs.
Lakeville’s town-owned facilities and schools are older buildings that are not energy efficient and have outdated lighting and energy management systems. Like many other communities, Lakeville is challenged by the need to find ways to control or reduce operating expenses without significant capital investment.
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Lancaster was incorporated in 1653, making it the oldest town in Worcester County. Today, Lancaster retains a sense of history with old houses scattered throughout the community and a church designed by Charles Bulfinch on the Town Green. Home to Atlantic Union College, apple orchards, farms, historic sites, ponds, and parks, Lancaster is a wonderful place to live and work.
Lancaster’s motivation for becoming a Green Community stemmed from wanting to reduce the town’s energy consumption and carbon footprint, and to receive funding and technical support to achieve this goal. Lancaster has been very progressive in its pursuit of renewables and efficiency measures. The town has built its own solar array, participated in the first energy audit programs, and was awarded Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant (EECBG) funds to implement heating system efficiencies.
We plan to expand our efforts as a Green Community by investigating LED streetlights, rooftop solar arrays, and heating/cooling improvements.
Lancaster‘s biggest energy challenges are getting people to embrace the technologies and understand the paybacks. The biggest opportunities are the long-term financial and energy consumption savings by adopting efficiency products and the financial incentives they come with (grants, rebates, etc.).
Situated in the Pioneer Valley, Leverett is a scenic community nearby the Five College area of Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Mt. Holyoke Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bordered by Brushy Mountain, Leverett is home to quiet ponds, the Sawmill River, and a picturesque and historic mill in the center of town, and traversed by a two-mile road running through a glacial ravine. The first Peace Pagoda in the U.S. sits majestically at the top of the town’s Cave Hill.
Leverett took steps to become a Green Community as a way to organize and prioritize energy projects, and to gain access to funds to accomplish them. The town counts as its biggest energy challenges and opportunities efforts to decrease energy consumption by both the municipality and its residents, while replacing current power sources with renewable energy.
Population: 31,394 (2010 Census)
Famously the site of the first battle of the American Revolution, Lexington offers captivating history and comfortable modern life. The community values the town’s heritage while enjoying a nationally recognized public school system, a thriving business center, facilities for year-round recreation, and venues for performances, exhibits, and events. Increasing ethnic and cultural diversity and an active spirit of volunteerism further enrich quality of life in Lexington.
Lexington has taken many actions to respond to the threat of climate change, in part because of its tradition of citizen engagement and public dialogue. Among such improvements have been converting from electric to gas heat in schools, following a policy of reconstructing public buildings to at least a LEED silver rating, operating a fixed route minibus system, providing curbside recycling collection, and launching the Better Buildings Program public-private partnership to help Lexington residents lower their bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Lexington community strongly supported joining the Green Communities program, recognizing the opportunities associated with becoming a Green Community. Organizations backing the effort included a 2020 Vision Task Force, the Global Warming Action Coalition, the Energy Conservation Committee, and numerous religious congregations. The town identified Green Communities grant funding as a potential resource for renewable energy projects and also recognized that the Stretch Energy Code would be a useful tool in addressing energy use in the private sector. Lexington used its first Green Community grant to install induction street lights throughout the community and realized 45 percent energy savings as a result. The town will use its second (competitive) grant for LED exterior parking lot lighting at Lexington High School.
The town recognizes balancing the economics of growing the commercial tax base while also considering alternative energy projects as a major challenge moving forward. Lexington also considers the task of encouraging reduced energy use in the private sector, as larger buildings replace smaller ones, to be an important challenge.
Situated at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers, Lowell has a centuries-old history of channeling local natural resources to drive economic development. Incorporated in 1826 as America’s first, large-scale planned industrial community, Lowell became emblematic of the country’s transition from a rural agrarian to an industrial society, harnessing the inherent energy of rivers and canals to provide inexpensive, reliable power for mills and to transport goods for trade. By 1840, Lowell was the country’s principal manufacturing center. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, however, alternatives to hydro power became widespread, causing many of Lowell’s aging textile mills to pull up roots and move south in search of cheaper raw materials and labor, and its economy to stagnate. Lowell’s remarkable rebirth began in the 1970s with the designation of the Lowell National Historical Park – the nation’s first urban National Park – and related local and state efforts to promote historic preservation, heritage tourism, and economic renewal. A wave of immigration in the early 1980s enabled Lowell to continue a proud tradition of drawing on the vitality of immigrant communities, and the city has recently broadened its traditional job base beyond manufacturing to include technology, education, health care and creative economy sectors.
Lowell was among 35 cities and towns named Green Communities in DOER’s inaugural Green Communities Designation round in 2010. This step followed the city’s 2007 endorsement of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement and further demonstrated Lowell’s commitment to sustainability, while providing access to funding for projects that increase energy efficiency and decrease dependence on fossil fuels. The city has used Green Communities grant funds in various ways – from supplementing the cost a $21 million energy services management contract with Ameresco, to installation of variable speed drives and condenser units at several school buildings and retrofitting decorative streetlamps along the Merrimack Riverwalk with LED bulbs.
Going forward, Lowell seeks to build on progress toward its 20 percent municipal energy use reduction target – three quarters of which was met within three years through capital improvements identified by the Ameresco energy services contract. With a number of necessary building repairs and improvements now addressed, Lowell officials are finding it increasingly difficult to identify “low-hanging fruit” opportunities that provide the city with quick payback. The challenge is how to identify ways to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, with many of the city’s remaining energy efficiency opportunities offering longer paybacks and less immediate financial benefits to the community. Recently, the city has opted for opportunities to cut energy use by retrofitting street lights and reducing fuel consumption in the municipal vehicle fleet.
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Population 38,895 (US Census July 2011)
Marlborough is a great city at the crossroads of New England. Centrally located near the intersection of Routes 495, 290, 20 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, Marlborough is a busy commercial and political center. A thriving community that still retains the tree-covered ridges and idyllic ponds from its early days as a Native American and Colonial settlement, the city proudly celebrated its 350th in 2010 – the same year it earned designation as a Green Community. Our long history and commitment to a “greener,” more sustainable future makes Marlborough an ideal location to live, work, stay and play!
The city is at the heart of the state’s growing innovation economy, with job and population growth spurred by national firms in high tech, defense, financial services, bio-science, information technology, and renewable energy technologies. In 2011, Marlborough was voted “Best Place to Raise Kids” by Bloomberg Business week, a wonderful validation of what Marlborough residents have always known.
In 2005, a citizens group called “Green Marlborough” worked with the city Conservation Department and Mayors’ office to establish a Marlborough Energy and Environment Taskforce. This large task force of 17 members, including citizens, municipal officials and utility company representatives, went on to write the “Sustainability Action Plan,” one task of which was to become a Green Community. With the support of the task force, technical assistance through the Green Communities Act, and the Green Marlborough Group, city officials learned what it takes to become a Green Community and ultimately voted to become one.
Two major factors motivated this effort. First, from a facilities management side, the desire to reduce cost was a leading factor. Second, from the conservation and citizens’ group perspective, the motivating factor was reducing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming part of the solution locally to curb global warming. Both factors are mutually inclusive and helped to convince people that this was an important step to take.
Marlborough’s biggest energy opportunities have included working with our utilities to continue making improvements to our municipal properties. In the past five years, we’ve invested more than $1.4 million in energy efficiency, received more than $600,000 in rebates and saved more than $250,000 annually in energy bills. Our energy challenges include continuing to reduce our energy use while increasing the capacity and standards of our wastewater treatment plants, and also trying to take advantage of energy-efficient exterior lighting opportunities given that the majority of street lights are owned by the electric utility, not the city.
Maynard is a small, 5.4-square-mile regional center, with urban characteristics and relatively high density. It has and continues to serve as a central business district for the larger surrounding region.
In becoming a Green Community, we have been motivated by the wonderful staff at DOER (notably Green Communities Division Director Meg Lusardi and Central Massachusetts Regional Coordinator Kelly Brown) to exchange ideas and cultivate initiatives to make Maynard closer to sustainable. Being a Green Community has renewed our focus on what we need to watch to control consumption and costs and reduce waste. And we like the Green Communities grants, because they drive ideas from concept to reality.
We believe one of the great challenges may be developing a community energy strategy that can be articulated in a simple and direct manner. The challenge with the larger, wordier or more complex “mission” statement associated with energy policy is often lost on those who can offer the greatest impact on the “mission” intent. Reaching the masses, as opposed to only reaching those most engaged in the issues of natural resource management through conservation and renewable development, requires a segmented marketing approach. Pursuing one issue of the greatest importance at a time might produce a recognizable and sustainable change in behavior – perhaps, for example, if 2013 was the “Year of The Low Flush Toilet,” with a simple $50 tax incentive for every toilet replaced. Ultimately, whatever idea is chosen, there should be the kind of coordinated campaign that all the Green Communities could, if they wished, easily pass on to citizens.
We have the opportunity to expand the conversation beyond simple “turn down your thermostat, shut off the light” energy reduction and allow citizens to understand, or at least ponder, the resource impact related to goods and services – for example, helping people understand that the water that washes their cars used substantial energy to become portable water. This leads to questions such as: “Does the water I use to clean my car really have to be drinkable? Is it critical that I wash my car? Can I recapture the water from my roof to wash my car?” There are countless other examples, from the person who opens the window at work when the heat or air-conditioning is on because he/she doesn’t know who to call to adjust the thermostat, to the person who is proud that he/she recycles, but buys a case of bottled water a week without thinking about the energy it takes to produce the bottle. A campaign that we could roll out locally with consistent messaging would be effective.
Population: 56,173 (2010)
Located five miles northwest of Boston, Medford was settled in 1630 and incorporated in 1892. It has a rich history that includes shipbuilding on the Mystic River, and the manufacturing of brick, tile, and rum. An interesting fact is that the songs “Jingle Bells” and “Over the River and Through the Woods” were written by Medford residents in the late 19th century. Medford is home to Tufts University, and the city has an abundant amount of open space. About one third of Medford’s eight square miles is park land, which includes the Middlesex Fells Reservation managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The city saw becoming a Green Community as an opportunity to meet several of its goals: setting an example for residents, accessing emerging opportunities for energy efficiency, and a means of leveraging additional funding for “green” projects and programs in Medford. Mayor Michael J. McGlynn often states that “Going ‘green’ is an addiction. Once you start you just can’t stop.” Medford recognized that many of the requirements to be designated a Green Community where steps that the city had taken or wanted to take, such as adopting the Stretch Code and creating a plan to reduce municipal energy usage by 20 percent. This program provided assistance in taking these steps and helped with funding to meet the city’s energy reduction goals.
Given the city’s historic building stock, there are many opportunities for energy improvements. Medford High School is the city’s most challenging building regarding energy consumption due to its size (over 500,000 square feet) and age (over 40 years old). Over the past ten-plus years, the city has taken an active role in completing energy efficiency improvements and upgrades in each of its buildings, where possible. Medford has worked closely with its utility company, National Grid, taking advantage of all rebates and credits and leveraging as many funds as possible.
Population: 13,384 (2012 Medway Town Census)
Medway has small town character and appeal, a rural feel with suburban amenities. It is equidistant to Boston, Worcester and Providence, with easy access to I-495. It has outstanding public schools, a great park in the center of town with a playground, walking trails and a pond. Medway has an established community farm that offers Community Supported Agriculture shares and gardening classes for all ages. The town will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2013, with a variety of memorable events to commemorate this historic occasion. Pride in the community is evidenced by annual activities such as Medway Pride Day and the Christmas parade, which culminates in a fireworks display. The town has two National Register Historic Districts: Rabbit Hill and Medway Village.
In becoming a Green Community, Medway was motivated by access to funding sources to make capital improvements to accomplish reduced energy usage, and the ability to save taxpayer dollars by reducing the town’s energy use costs.
Medway sees the biggest energy opportunity in programs and initiatives sponsored by DOER and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), both of which provide Medway with many innovative ways to reduce the town’s energy use. Through MAPC’s LEAP program, Medway is currently receiving technical assistance in the development of a comprehensive energy plan to achieve cost and use savings not only for its public buildings, but for its residents and businesses as well.
In terms of energy challenges, Medway experienced initial opposition to adoption of the Stretch Code, and anticipates there could be continued opposition as the Stretch Code is updated to include more rigorous standards. Medway is also challenged in dedicating sufficient municipal staff time to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by DOER and MAPC for municipal energy conservation initiatives. Without a staff person specifically devoted to energy work, it is difficult to evaluate opportunities and participate as fully as Medway would like. There has also been some resistance in town to developing a thermal imaging program for detecting energy efficiency opportunities, due to concerns about privacy, and the town has some concern about achieving its Green Communities goal of reducing the town’s energy use by 20 percent within five years.
Melrose is a walkable city located approximately seven miles north of Boston with access to the Oak Grove MBTA station on the Orange line and three commuter line rail stops. Since its settlement in the middle of the 18th century, Melrose has offered its residents a desirable compromise between the crowded metropolis of Boston and the frontier of rural exurbia. Melrose is predominantly residential, with exquisite Victorian homes dating from the late 1800s, a vibrant downtown along Main Street, a school and park in every neighborhood, an active arts community, and excellent recreation facilities. The City motto, “One Community Open to All,” is expressed with a strong sense of volunteerism and commitment to the community.
Following on the work of the Melrose Energy Commission, the time was right to create a citywide energy reduction plan and to act on it – thus becoming a Green Community. We expect to meet our goal to reduce energy usage by 20 percent or more by 2015.
Energy challenges in Melrose include some municipal buildings that are well over 100 years old and schools built in the 1920s and 1950s. Retrofitting these buildings with energy efficient systems is expensive and difficult. However, Melrose has a Mayor and Board of Aldermen who are committed to doing what they can to save energy and taxpayer dollars. With seed money from our Green Community grant, Melrose was able to hire a part-time Energy Efficiency Manager who is able to take advantage of a variety of funding opportunities to tackle energy savings and renewable energy projects throughout the city.
Population: 6,142 (as of 2012)
Mendon is a small, rural town that has accomplished the remarkable feat of maintaining open space and a vibrant community while also welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. Southwick Zoo, the largest zoo in New England, attracts about 300,000 visitors annually to see more than 100 species on exhibit. Mendon is also home to one of the last drive-in movie theaters in New England. The town is part of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, in recognition of the fact that the farms of Mendon once helped feed mill workers in neighboring towns.
Desire to help the environment, set an example for the beneficial use of “green” technologies, and save the town money motivated Mendon to become a Green Community. Mendon plans to use its Green Community grant for energy efficiency projects, such as obtaining energy efficient air conditioning units and weatherproofing municipal buildings.
Moving forward, Mendon officials note that helping residents to see that energy efficiency and clean energy projects are worthy investments is both the town’s greatest energy challenge and its greatest opportunity.
Population: 13,261 (2010 Census)
An abundance of historic mill buildings perched alongside the Blackstone River and its tributaries attest to Millbury’s industrial history. By the late 1700s, waterpower provided energy and played an important role in shaping Millbury’s development. Today, with its proximity to jobs in Worcester, Boston and along the high tech I-495 corridor, direct access to major highways and relative affordability of its housing stock, Millbury is attractive to commercial and residential developers. The largest economic development project in the town’s history was completed in 2005. The Shoppes of Blackstone Valley provides more than 820,000 square feet of shopping and dining experiences. The complex also includes the 14-screen Blackstone Valley 14 Cinema De Lux movie theater. Completion of this economic development project coupled with the new Route 146/Mass Pike Interchange has transformed Millbury into a regional destination.
As a precursor to becoming a Green Community, the Millbury Board of Selectmen in September 2009 established the Energy Advisory Committee to assist the Town Planner with a project to site a wind turbine on municipal property, as well as other energy efficiency efforts. The town pursued Green Community status in 2011 as a way of financing its energy conservation and renewable energy development efforts.
Millbury’s biggest energy challenge is older buildings with outdated, inefficient systems. In FY 2009, municipal buildings accounted for 76 percent of the town’s energy consumption.
Population: 990 (2010 census)
Zoned rural and agricultural, New Salem is in close proximity to an abundance of state-owned conservation land, as well as the culturally-rich Pioneer Valley.
New Salem’s decision to become a Green Community stemmed from the community’s recognition that we will be faced with more and more expensive fossil fuel energy costs as the years progress. We are attempting to reduce usage, upgrade inefficiency and promote use of alternative energy production as part of our municipal responsibilities. To this end we have established an energy committee that is working toward these goals.
New Salem’s energy challenges include not being on a public transportation route, having few facilities nearby, and having an elementary school jointly owned with another town that did not qualify for thermal upgrade funding in a previous American Recovery and Reinvestment Act opportunity. This school uses the biggest percentage of energy in the town’s budget. We are also coping with many issues related to outdated municipal buildings that still pose an energy efficiency challenge.
Residents of Newburyport are proud of their city’s patriotic history and maritime heritage. Colonists held the first tea party in opposition to the British tea tax in Newburyport, and the first ship commissioned for the US Coast Guard was built there. Many Federalist homes constructed with whaling and clipper ship fortunes still stand and contribute to the city’s beauty. Newburyport has worked to uphold this heritage, in the 1960s launching a massive redevelopment program to reclaim its historic neighborhoods and renovate infrastructure.
Newburyport balances this historic focus with an emphasis on the “lively present.” During the 1960s redevelopment, the city built an industrial park (the Newburyport Business and Industry Park), which houses diversified small industries. The city's old fire station has also been converted to hold a restaurant and theatre, which opened in 1991. The first Massachusetts community to complete a master plan and a harbor plan, Newburyport supports at thriving tourist industry and is home to both newcomers and residents whose families have lived in the city for generations.
Newburyport’s interest in balancing historic value and new opportunity factors prominently into its energy policy considerations. The city faces the challenge of improving energy efficiency in old buildings without impacting their historic character. Newburyport also strives to meet the energy needs of the community, while maintaining the city’s abundant natural resources.
Seeking to manage the city in a responsible manner while finding innovative, progressive solutions to energy usage challenges, Newburyport officials were inspired to pursue Green Community designation to achieve various goals, including creating a system for managing overall energy use, qualifying for state energy grants, and saving money by reducing energy costs,. Once designated, Newburyport opted to use its Green Communities grant funds for energy efficiency projects in municipal buildings.
Population: 28,549 (2010 U.S. Census)
Situated between the Connecticut River and the foothills of the Berkshires, Northampton offers a sophisticated rural lifestyle rich in cultural, artistic, academic, and business resources. Northampton is home to one of the most vibrant downtown centers in New England, as well as Smith College, and is neighbored closely by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Amherst, Hampshire, and Mount Holyoke Colleges. Northampton prides itself on its diverse, well educated, and highly skilled workforce.
Northampton has been committed to increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the 1980s. Once designated as a Green Community in 2010, Green Community grant funds helped pay for a 106 kilowatt solar PV system on the Smith Vocational Agricultural High School’s (SVAHS) campus and the purchase of an Energy Auditor/Building Performance Inspection education kit for the SCAHS Home Building Program. Students profit from these educational tools not only in knowledge but also from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), which bring in an estimated $30,000 to $80,000 annually for the city’s Energy and Sustainability Project Revolving fund l. In 2012, Northampton used Green Community funds to increase air sealing and insulation in two historic Northampton buildings: Memorial Hall and the Academy of Music.
Northampton’s largest success in reducing energy use has come from a $6.5 million energy services performance contract that has reduced energy use in city buildings by over 20 percent. As a result, Northampton is well on its way to meeting the 20 percent drop in overall municipal energy use called for in its five-year Green Communities energy reduction plan. With the help of the Sustainable Northampton Comprehensive Plan and ongoing support from the Green Communities Division, Northampton hopes to find efficient ways to help its residents and businesses achieve similar savings.
Population - 13,300
Palmer, historically known as the Town of Seven Railroads, has four distinct village centers. These commercial centers are direct outgrowths of the pre-industrial mill works, and the railroad depots that followed. Miles of rivers and rural lands surround the town, providing residents with a variety of landscapes. These built and natural features emit a sense of nostalgia and community. The economic centers are accessible from a number of main routes, as well as the Mass Pike. This prime location in Western Massachusetts allows residents access to various employment opportunities while maintaining a connection to heritage and healthy lifestyles.
The town was motivated early on in the Green Community designation process for two main reasons: First, to be a role model within the community, one that stresses the financial and environmental benefits of promoting sustainable energy practices on all scales, from land-use regulations to building codes; and, second, to realize the fiscal benefits of responsible energy use at the municipal level through the creation of a five-year 20 percent energy reduction plan and implementation of plan goals through available grant funding.
The biggest challenge for Palmer is choosing which energy efficient upgrades to concentrate on and employ. The town buildings are primarily older facilities, so there are many opportunities to reduce usage and costs with upgraded equipment. Currently, besides participating in the recent Solarize Mass program, the town is in the early stages of installing a 3 megawatt solar array on a capped landfill.
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Founded in 1739, Pelham combines quiet, rural character with a vibrant community spirit that echoes the commitment of the town’s most famous citizen—Daniel Shays. Shays, a Revolutionary War hero, led the 1786 Shays’ Rebellion, which helped prompt the creation of the U.S. Constitution. The Old Town Hall in Pelham, the oldest town hall in continuous use in the nation, represents the municipality’s long history of civic engagement. Pelham’s town hall has hosted a town meeting every year since 1743.
Fields, farms, and mills once dotted the landscape of Pelham, but the town is now mostly forested. The town, which used to serve as a terminus of a regional electric trolley system, also contains many streams, ponds, and wetlands. Residents can now enjoy Pelham’s excellent elementary school and the community’s relaxed lifestyle.
Backed by community support for sustainable modes of living, Pelham became a Green Community because officials felt that achieving the designation would help the town to save money and that adopting the Stretch Code would encourage future energy and cost savings in homes. Pelham is using its Green Community grant to upgrade the insulation and reduce energy use in its primary municipal building, the Community Center. The Community Center is one of only four heated municipal buildings in the town and houses the library, meeting rooms, the town archives, the police department, and the fire department.
Population: 44,472 (U.S. Census, July 2011)
The City of Pittsfield is a vibrant small city nestled in the heart of the Berkshire Hills. With a rich history, abundant open space and recreation opportunities, and a burgeoning arts and culture scene, Pittsfield is a four-season destination for visitors and a great place to live for locals. With affordable home prices and quality schools, Pittsfield is a great place to raise a family. What other community has a ski area, community college, three lakes, four golf courses, a museum and world-class theatres within its borders?
Pittsfield is committed to become a more sustainable community by embracing the spirit of the Green Community designation. By addressing growth issues that impact energy use, waste reduction, urban design, transportation, and environmental health, the city has taken a leadership role to ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment for generations to come.
Pittsfield has been very active in working with local businesses and homeowners through the Powering Pittsfield community energy efficiency initiative, a partnership between the city and the local utilities. Though the program is only in its initial stages, significant results toward community energy efficiency have been realized. One of the greatest challenges is that Pittsfield has among the oldest housing stocks in the country, making energy efficiency upgrades to residences a challenge.
Incorporated in 1785, Rowe is a small hill town in northwestern Massachusetts bordered on the east by Heath, the south by Charlemont, the west by Monroe, and the north by Whitingham VT. Since its first days, the community has employed stream water to run mills and small manufacturing facilities. In later times, Rowe used its location on the Deerfield River (a major tributary of the Connecticut River) for installation of hydraulic electric generating plants—four of which are still in operation, the Sherman station (1927), Deerfield #5 (1974), Fife Brook (1974), and the Bear Swamp Hydroelectric Plant (1974). They have, combined, a capacity of 636 megawatts (MW) of electrical generation (Bear Swamp accounting for 600 MW). In 1960, the Rowe Yankee Atomic Power Plant (185 MW capacity) was completed - the first nuclear plant in New England and the third in the nation. It was shut down in 1992, and fully decommissioned by 2007.
Rowe is a place of scenic beauty, consisting of wooded mountains, and many brooks and streams. The Deerfield River forms its western border. Rowe is close to ski areas and has a park with a year-round ranger. Many trails are maintained in all seasons. There is a beach with lifeguard protection on Pelham Lake, and a many programs are offered for all ages throughout four seasons. Rowe contains and is near to hiking trails, fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor recreation. It has its own elementary school district for grades Pre-K to 6, and grades 7-12 attend the Mohawk Trail Regional School District or Franklin County Technical School. The Rowe Historical Society maintains an excellent small historical museum, containing antiques, artifacts and numerous photographs documenting the history of the town, including the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, and the operation of both the Davis Mine and the Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The close-knit community enjoys a solid tax base provided by the hydro-electric facilities on the Deerfield River.
Rowe’s motivation for pursuing Green Community status included the fact that residents, in two surveys in the last four years, demonstrated a desire to improve the energy efficiency of town buildings and to find ways to generate power, with solar the preferred mode. Also, on every vote taken in support of lighting updates under the National Grid small business rebate plans, the Siemens energy performance contract, and the criteria for Green Communities designation, there was a near- unanimous or heavy majority approval, showing that the motivation for energy improvements in Rowe has been quite strong in recent years.
Both challenge and opportunities lie in the fact that Rowe’s major buildings needed systematic energy conservation updates. This was accomplished in large part by a Guaranteed Savings Energy Savings Performance contract, completed for the Rowe Elementary School, Town Hall, Library, Town Garage, and Fire Station on January 1, 2011. The first year of Measurement and Evaluation, 2011, proved a savings of 32 percent over the five buildings, verified both by the Siemens study and a Rowe-conducted study using Mass Energy Insight figures for the that year. Sadly, on August 4, 2012, a fire caused by lightning destroyed the Rowe Elementary School, where the majority of the conservation measures had been installed. From the ashes, however, good things can come. If the town decides to replace the building, we will now be able to design a new building from the ground up using state-of-the-art energy efficiencies
Founded in 1626, Salem has a rich history that includes a key role in the spice trade with the East Indies, the birthplace of the National Guard and the home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Today, Salem is a vibrant urban community with a bustling downtown full of an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and historic attractions. Our waterfront is no longer a hub of the spice trade but is still very active with both recreational and commercial uses.
Each year, over a million visitors from around the globe visit Salem. During their stay tourists visit our world-famous museums, are fascinated by the city’s historic architecture and learn about Salem’s past.
Salem is a pedestrian-friendly city where residents and visitors can easily visit the many attractions downtown. And, with access to public transportation, it’s easy to live, work and play in Salem.
Salem’s Green Community designation has given the city an opportunity to continue projects related to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants awarded in 2010. By meeting the five requirements of Green Community status, Salem has taken a positive step towards a sustainable future. Additionally, lowering energy consumption directly equates to significant yearly savings that helps the city offer a high level of service to the citizens and visitors of Salem.
Salem’s plan for a large-scale wind turbine at Winter Island has generated public concern relative to possible noise pollution, habitat disruption, and decreased property values for nearby homes. The opportunity to generate 1.5 megawatts of renewable energy, however, is being addressed through thorough research and public participation to understand the true cost-benefit analysis of the turbine.
Another energy challenge Salem faces is reducing energy consumption in municipal buildings, especially the schools. We hope that better energy management practices, coupled with an overall energy efficiency reduction plan will help lower total consumption so we can meet our goal of reducing energy consumption 20 percent by 2013
Population: 4,119 (2010 Census)
With large expanses of open woods and meadows and several active farms, Sherborn is an aesthetically “green” community as well as one of the 110 cities and towns that have earned the state’s energy-related “Green Community” designation. Located only 23 miles from Boston, Sherborn is also conveniently positioned to easily access the many goods and services offered within the Metrowest region.
The town’s desire to reduce energy costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions motivated it to become a Green Community. Sherborn is using about half of its Green Community grant for lighting improvements, and most of the other half for building/ HVAC improvements on the elementary school and fire station. Other projects have included completing audits of all of the town’s major buildings, converting the public library to natural gas heat from oil, and installing anti-idling devices in several police cars.
Moving forward, Sherborn faces the challenge of prioritizing and making energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings and finding suitable locations for solar photovoltaic facilities. The town considers energy efficiency improvements to be an important avenue for working toward its goals of reducing energy costs and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Sherborn has identified the task of increasing awareness about energy efficiency and alternative energy among town staff and residents as another energy challenge and opportunity.
Shirley is a rural/suburban community in Middlesex County with a population of 5,926 and a prison population of 1,285 (at the 2010 census), for a total of 7,211. Shirley was settled in approximately 1720 and became incorporated in 1753. The town has a well preserved historic New England town center. Our old Meeting House is still used by Hallmark for its Christmas card series. Shirley is quaint and friendly - a typical New England Community.
Financial sustainability, keeping tax payers’ money in Shirley, and a desire to directly benefit Shirley government and residents rather than outside/foreign industries were motivating factors in Shirley’s pursuit of Green Community status. The town also sought to create a community that is more environmentally friendly, preserving clean air, water and open space for future generations.
Educating our community to the benefits of “green” efforts, both financially (short, mid and long-term sustainability) and environmentally, is one of Shirley’s bigger challenges – and therefore also an outstanding opportunity. Another is getting the biggest “bang for the buck” with available funds and working toward the Energy Committee’s goal of getting “as close to zero energy costs as possible.”
Population: 153,060 (2010 census)
Springfield is known as the “City of Firsts” for its history of innovation, and as the “City of Homes” for its vast collection of historic houses. The city was home to the first National Armory and was also the birthplace of the basketball, Dr. Seuss, and the manufactured automobile. Springfield includes six local historic districts. The world class Springfield Museums Quadrangle, composed of six museums flanking the National Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, lies in the city’s downtown.
Open space and a robust business center also characterize Springfield. The city ranks at the top for per capita open space, with one of the largest urban parks in New England and two public golf courses. MassMutual Financial, Peter Pan Bus, Smith & Wesson, Merriam-Webster, and Big Y Supermarkets are among the large businesses headquartered in Springfield.
Springfield’s designation as a Green Community underscores its continuing commitment to energy efficiency and resource sustainability. Country Home Magazine once named Springfield the 4th Greenest City in America. The city seeks to reduce energy waste and lower costs by keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Using its Green Community grant, Springfield has completed or planned for completion: advanced energy management systems at five facilities, high efficiency boiler installations at five facilities, digital T-stat installations at two facilities, and vending miser installations at three facilities.
Moving forward, Springfield has identified the large number of buildings and vehicles that comprise its municipal portfolio as both its greatest energy challenge and greatest energy opportunity. Many of the 100-plus buildings managed by the city were constructed decades ago and did not incorporate efficiencies that are commonplace now. Investments in retrofits, replacements, insulation, motion sensors, and other technologies can allow the city to overcome this energy policy barrier and greatly increase energy efficiency. In addition to focusing on efficiency, Springfield is pursuing solar photovoltaic and solar hot water renewable energy development.
Reducing energy consumption was the motivating factor in Sudbury becoming a Green Community. The town has worked actively to reduce its energy use for over a decade. Variable speed motor drives, efficient lighting and controls, and energy management systems in our school boiler rooms and re-lamping of street lights were some of the first changes made. The objectives of the Green Community Designation and Grant Program are consistent with Sudbury’s long-standing commitment to energy conservation. Becoming a Green Community was a natural step, because it reinforced and advanced our energy agenda, and provided support and funding opportunities to make meaningful improvements.
The biggest energy challenge Sudbury faces is funding. It costs money upfront to save money in the future, and it isn’t easy to raise the capital needed to make energy-saving improvements. We have been educating our residents about the opportunities to reduce consumption and lower costs, but there are many demands on our town budgets. The opportunity to join other communities in becoming a Green Community and to apply for grants has helped make this funding possible. The town would not have been able to pursue its energy reduction goals so effectively if not for the efforts of the DOER and the leadership of the Green Community Program.
Population: 13,787 (2010 census)
A small coastal community, Swampscott developed as a fishing village and later as a vacation resort location. Some defining features of the town include:
Located between two cities (Lynn and Salem), Swampscott has a residential feel.
The primary reasons for Swampscott becoming a Green Community were to help the town become more energy efficient, reduce energy costs and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Although we are a small town (three square miles), we provide many services to our community. The greater the efficiencies, the less residents will be burdened by the cost. Additionally, due to our small size, actions taken by the town easily act as positive reinforcements for residents to do similar things – thereby increasing the level of energy efficiency and further reducing emissions.
Although Swampscott is a coastal community, we are still challenged with finding a viable wind energy project that can provide the best return on investment, while still fitting within are densely-developed community. Our next biggest opportunity is solar energy. The town has taken a big step in taking advantage of this opportunity by installing PV systems at the middle and high schools. Our next phase will be encouraging residents to take on this opportunity (there are currently fewer than 10 residential solar installations in town).
Topsfield lies at the center of Essex County in northeastern Massachusetts, bordered by Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham, Danvers, Middleton and Boxford. It is located about 10 miles southeast of Lawrence and 20 miles north of Boston. The town is a fairly compact 13 square miles, with rolling hills and winding streams. The Village Shopping Center and other small businesses are located along Route 1. Topsfield remains primarily a residential community, however, and the town retains a rural character with a typical New England Town Common. The town of Topsfield is the home of the Topsfield Fair, which was established in 1818.
Topsfield was motivated to become a Green Community by the general concept of reducing our carbon footprint while generating cost savings through the implementation of energy conservation measures. The Green Community program and grant have motivated our citizens and town officials to pursue these measures by providing the financial means to actively engage in energy conservation projects.
The schools and town buildings represent our greatest opportunity for immediate energy savings. The town of Topsfield anticipates savings that will exceed $47,000 annually in the reduced cost of electricity and natural gas through our Green Community efforts. Our greatest challenge is the lack of a centralized facilities department or manager to oversee town buildings and to help coordinate our efforts. The Green Community Committee works closely with the Board of Selectman, School District and town managers to help identify, document and implement energy conservation measures.
Population: 8,926 (2010 Census)
Encompassing 32.83 square miles on the border of New Hampshire, Townsend is a wooded, rural farming community with exemplary wildlife habitat and plentiful recreational opportunities. The Squannacook River begins in the town, and areas along the river support fishing, hiking, hunting, canoeing, and swimming. Townsend hosts a Historical Society, with three Historic Districts and an active Recreation Commission, as well as a thriving Library and Senior Center. There are several antique shops along Route 119, which bisects the town.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation owns 31.1% of Townsend (6,572 acres), and 33.8% of the town (7,160 acres) is permanently protected, publically-owned open space. In 2002, the state designated the Squannassit Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), covering 70 percent of Townsend, to recognize the importance of this land as a natural and cultural resource.
Having implemented energy efficiency measures in the past, Townsend officials saw Green Community designation as an opportunity to pursue bigger energy conservation projects despite a dwindling town budget and the high cost of replacing aging equipment. Residents enthusiastically voted to adopt the criteria for designation. Townsend plans to use its Green Community Grant for: conservation measures, controls and retro-commissioning; energy-efficient variable speed drive water pump replacements; energy efficient lighting upgrades; insulation; energy efficient vehicle purchases; and, awareness and outreach programs.
With fuel use by the Highway and Police Departments accounting for nearly 30 percent of the town’s energy consumption, Townsend officials say reducing the use of gasoline and diesel is both the town’s biggest energy challenge and one of its best opportunities. The town is also challenged by the fact that half of the town’s municipal buildings were constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s and are difficult to retrofit. In addition to reining in vehicle fuel usage, town officials see decreasing the electricity demand of the Library and Senior Center, Memorial Hall, Fire Stations, and Police Station as the greatest energy opportunities for Townsend.
Population: 31,915 (2010 Census)
Spanning just over four square miles, Watertown is the Commonwealth’s seventh smallest municipality geographically, but the 13th most densely populated. It is also among the state’s oldest communities, established in 1630. Within easy commuting distance of Boston and its other neighbors (Newton, Belmont, Waltham and Cambridge), Watertown is a mostly residential suburb nestled along the banks of the Charles River.
Watertown’s decision to become a Green Community was fueled by a desire to reduce carbon emissions associated with municipal operations while saving taxpayer dollars. Once designated, Watertown used its Green Communities grant to replace its inefficient streetlights with LEDs.
Looking ahead, Watertown faces a number of challenges to its clean energy vision: a limited budget for investment in energy efficiency and renewables; an older, inefficient building stock; and little open space for renewable energy projects. While opportunities for weatherizing buildings abound, the town’s ample rooftop space for solar panels is tempered by the fact that many roofs shelter renters rather than building owners who could more readily invest in on-site solar energy.
Watertown officials are encouraged by the opportunities for clean energy leadership that have opened up as a result of their Green Community designation, and note that becoming a Green Community helped to establish new relationships throughout the community. As a participant in the Community Energy Strategies Program, an initiative of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and DOER’s Green Communities Division, Watertown is leveraging those relationships to develop a comprehensive clean energy plan and a town-wide roadmap for accomplishing it. The town is also continuing to carry out a community energy education effort.
Population: 4, 400
With lots of open space and farmland and prolific wildlife, West Newbury has a small town atmosphere and residents tend to run into friends and neighbors wherever they go. Its twin motivations for becoming a Green Community in 2013 were to reduce municipal energy costs while reducing the town’s environmental impact for both current and future generations. West Newbury had already started down that path at the time of its Green Community designation, with several years of municipal energy efficiency measures under its belt – a double-edged sword that increased the challenge of cutting municipal energy usage by 20 percent after five years.
West Newbury put its initial Green Communities designation grant toward conversion of municipal lighting to LED technology. This quick payback energy efficiency strategy complements the town’s renewable energy activities, which include a 450 kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system scheduled for construction on municipally-owned land by summer 2015. The system is sized to provide approximately 90 percent of the annual municipal electrical energy requirement, substantially reducing the community’s carbon footprint while boosting its financial health through lower electric costs. Town officials say the solar PV project is a direct outgrowth of meeting Criterion 1 for Green Community designation, which enabled the solar project through bylaw and demonstrated West Newbury’s support for environmentally-friendly development.
Bisected by the historic Mill River, Williamsburg is a classic New England village well-positioned to accommodate a vast range of popular pastimes, from climbing the Commonwealth’s highest mountain and hiking in the local woods to frequenting the many shops, restaurants and theatres of the Pioneer Valley. An early adopter of clean energy initiatives through involvement in the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s Clean Energy Plan (prior to establishment of the Green Communities program), Williamsburg saw designation as a Green Community as the logical next step in its path to a clean energy future.
Town leaders cite decisions around the usefulness and eventual disposition of municipal buildings as a significant challenge, with energy efficiency figuring into those decisions. The town’s greatest energy opportunities include promoting the construction of the most efficient buildings possible; replacing dependence on oil and propane with renewable resources; and increasing the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources. Williamsburg has used its Green Community designation grant to complete an energy audit of the Meekins Library and is considering implementation of recommended projects. The town is also researching the purchase of LED streetlights.
Located on a peninsula at the northeast corner of Boston Harbor, Winthrop offers stunning views of the Boston skyline and close proximity to more than 13 miles of coastline. This town of less than two square miles also hosts numerous cultural attractions for residents and visitors, including the E.B Newton Cultural Center, a small community theater, a town pier and ferry terminal, three yacht clubs, two marinas, and the Belle Isle Marsh conservation area. Winthrop is the only land connection to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves Greater Boston and surrounding suburbs.
Lacking the resources necessary for major building or renovation projects, Winthrop officials are focusing on improving the energy efficiency of the town’s existing buildings. Winthrop faces the challenge of managing aging infrastructure, including nearly all of its school buildings. Town officials believe that the Green Community designation will allow Winthrop to tackle energy efficiency measures more quickly, resulting in cost savings and reduced energy consumption.
Winthrop is currently using its Green Communities Grant to work with Guardian Energy to implement 17 energy conservation measures in six buildings and at two local pumping stations. The town is also engaging in several other Green Communities efforts, such as pursuing a transition to LED streetlights, purchasing energy efficient vehicles when possible, and supporting the development of renewable energy sources. Winthrop has partnered with a solar developer to pursue a solar energy power purchase agreement to accommodate town electricity consumption.