The Green Communities Act of 2008 established the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program, creating the framework for achieving designation status and awarding grant funds to municipalities for energy efficiency projects. Since then, the vast majority of Massachusetts municipalities have voluntarily become designated Green Communities, partnering with DOER on hundreds of projects resulting in energy and costs savings.
However, the goals articulated in An Act Creating A Next-Generation Roadmap For Massachusetts Climate Policy and the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030 (CECP) pivot the focus from energy reduction to greenhouse gas reduction. As a result, the programs DOER offers to support municipalities are also pivoting. The Climate Leader Communities certification program, evolving from the Green Communities program, creates a new voluntary framework for meeting these goals by providing tools and resources to help municipalities reduce emissions by electrifying non-electric energy uses and maximizing the efficiency of buildings and transportation. The following guidance describes the Green Communities Division’s Climate Leader Communities Certification and Grant Program process (pursuant to M.G.L.c. 25A §10 (b)).
Becoming certified as a Climate Leader Community provides access to grant funding to a municipality to support all or a portion of the cost of:
- studying, designing, constructing and implementing energy efficiency activities including, but not limited to, energy efficiency measures and projects;
- procuring energy management services;
- adopting energy efficiency policies; and,
- siting activities related to and construction of renewable energy generating facilities on municipally owned property.
To be eligible for Climate Leader Community certification, communities must meet the following requirements:
- Be a Green Community in good standing
- Have a local body (sustainability committee, energy committee, etc.) that advises the municipality on clean energy/climate initiatives
- Commit to eliminate on-site fossil fuel use by 2050 (municipal buildings/operations)
- Create a municipal decarbonization roadmap
- Adopt a Zero-Emission Vehicle first policy
- Adopt the Specialized Opt-In building code
While many communities, especially active users of MassEnergyInsight, may find that they can develop their municipal decarbonization roadmaps on their own, DOER will offer technical assistance to municipalities needing help. To help with planing resource allocation, we are asking communities to submit an Expression of Interest indicating their desire for this assistance.