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The Green Community Designation and Grant Program provides a road map along with financial and technical support to municipalities that 1) pledge to cut municipal energy use by an ambitious and achievable goal of 20 percent over 5 years and 2) meet four other criteria established in the Green Communities Act. Participation in the Program has grown steadily since the first group of 35 municipalities achieved designation status in July of 2010 to include more than half of the diverse cities and towns of the Commonwealth and nearly two-thirds of the population. The benefits of designation extend beyond the program itself, inspiring cities and towns to undertake additional energy-related initiatives, improve coordination between municipal staff and departments, and increase messaging with the public at large about energy-related issues and actions.
● Local support from Regional Coordinators
● Education on benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy
● Guidance and technical assistance for local energy questions and projects
● Funding opportunities for clean energy projects
The Green Community Designation and Grant Program has designated one hundred eigthy-five cities and towns as Green Communities. These energy leaders have accessed grants of nearly $36 million for energy projects.
The latest group of 25 cities and towns designated in December 2017 have pledged energy reductions amounting to 296,968 MMBTUs over five years.
Section 10 of Chapter 25A, which establishes the Green Community Division and Designation and Grant Program requires a specific path forward for municipalities served by municipal light plants that adopt the renewable energy charge to participate in the Program. Municipalities served by BOTH a municipal light plant and an investor-owned electric utility ARE eligible to apply for and become a designated Green Community. DOER is considering ways to maximize participation by all cities and towns in the Program that yields a mix of reduced energy costs and the environmental and economic development benefits.
One of two criteria related to renewable energy development, Criterion 1 is met by a municipality passing zoning in designated locations for the as-of-right siting of renewable or alternative energy generating facilities, research and development facilities, or manufacturing facilities.
One of two criteria related to renewable energy development, Criterion 2 is met by a municipality adopting an expedited application and permitting of one year at most, under which facilities interested in locating their facility in a designated renewable zone may be sited within the municipality.
To demonstrate compliance with Criterion 3, municipalities must:
Criterion 4 requires all departments within a Green Community to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable.
To meet this requirement municipal governments and school districts must:
Criterion 5 recommends that municipalities minimize the life-cycle cost of all newly constructed homes and buildings, as well as those undergoing major renovation, by adopting Massachusetts’ Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) Stretch Code (780 CMR 115.AA). Buildings constructed to the Stretch Code use significantly less energy than buildings built to other current and previous building codes.