87 Percent of the Commonwealth’s Population Now Resides in a Green Community
As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s celebration of Earth Week in the Commonwealth, state and local officials traveled to the Town of Clinton last week to announce the designation of nine Massachusetts cities and towns as Green Communities. The municipalities, which have committed to clean energy and energy efficiency goals to reduce energy usage and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the program and are now eligible for grants totaling over $1.4 million. The Town of Clinton was presented with a $164,753 grant, which will support energy efficiency projects and the completion of weatherization projects at Clinton’s Town Hall and library.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our cities and towns have overcome significant obstacles to protect public health while continuing to make progress toward our shared energy and environmental goals,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to support the Commonwealth’s municipalities through the Green Communities program to help them save on energy costs and contribute to the Commonwealth’s statewide efforts to achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050.”
“We are pleased to welcome the Town of Clinton and eight new municipalities to the Green Communities program and look forward to working with them to pursue energy efficient solutions that reduce emissions and energy costs,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are grateful to our local officials for their efforts to adopt innovative clean energy measures, and we are proud to work with our Environmental Justice communities to ensure cleaner and healthier communities across the Commonwealth.”
With today’s designation, 280 of the Commonwealth’s municipalities have earned a Green Communities designation which represents 87 percent of the Commonwealth’s population. 88 percent of environmental justice communities are Green Communities, including Clinton.
The 280 Green Communities range from Great Barrington to Newburyport and are home to 87 percent of Massachusetts’ population, in municipalities as large as Boston and as small as Peru. All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent each, and this new group of nine cities and towns have committed to reduce their energy consumption amounting to savings of 86,875 MMBtus in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering nearly 673 homes, and reducing GHG emissions of 5,804 tons, equivalent to taking 1,222 cars off the road. Proposed projects include high-efficient LED lighting upgrades in schools and municipal buildings, electric vehicles for town and school fleets, and renewable thermal technologies such as air source heat pumps.
“During a challenging year, our Green Communities have demonstrated tremendous determination to reduce energy use and pursue ambitious clean energy projects,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to building on these state-local partnerships and working closely with our municipalities to pursue a cleaner, healthier future for residents in every community throughout the Commonwealth.”
“State government agencies often rely on local and city government officials to help implement clean energy policy, and today’s announcement highlights that partnership and celebrates the dedication of these hardworking officials at the municipal level,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “These nine municipalities will increase their clean energy usage and energy efficiency efforts thus helping the Commonwealth maintain its national leadership role in clean energy and enabling the state to continue making progress in its ambitious emissions targets.”
Since its inception, the Green Communities program has awarded over $137 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns through designation and competitive grant rounds. Under the Green Communities Act, DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can provide up to $20 million annually to qualified cities and towns. The goal of the Designation Grant Program is to support communities’ investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the designated communities. Initial designation grants are based on a $125,000 base for each designated Green Community, plus additional amounts tied to per capita income and population. Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
During this year’s Earth Week in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration is highlighting its commitment to supporting the Commonwealth’s Environmental Justice communities and ensuring that all residents are protected from environmental pollutioncan enjoy a clean and healthy environment. During Earth Week, the Administration is holding events throughout the Commonwealth spotlighting important initiatives, including the expansion of tree planting through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, increasing access to healthy, nutritious food by supporting urban farms, and ensuring clean water by providing grant funding to local municipalities.
“Climate change presents an existential threat to our environment. So, I am incredibly proud that Clinton and Princeton have chosen to be designed as Green Communities in the pursuit of clean energy and to grow their local economies,” said State Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I am grateful that the state can provide this grant money to help these town achieve their goals.”
“Congratulations to the Town of Princeton on receiving a Green Community designation. I applaud their efforts and investment in energy efficiency projects which further their clean energy goals,” said State Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden). “Many thanks to the Baker-Polito Administration, DOER, and EEA for continuing to support our municipalities, and for partnering with them to help support their energy reduction plan and implementation of energy efficiency projects.”
“I am thrilled that the Town of Clinton will be a designated Green Community. This will allow the town access to critical support and funding in their efforts to invest in energy efficiency and help achieve our local green energy goals,” said State Representative Meghan K. Kilcoyne (D-Worcester). “I offer my sincere congratulations to local officials for their efforts on this achievement and look forward to partnering with both the State and town to achieve our goals for a cleaner future together.”
On March 26, 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislationthat includes nation-leading provisions related to Environmental Justice. Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on Environmental Justice communities overburdened by poor air quality and disproportionately high levels of pollution, the legislation statutorily defines Environmental Justice and environmental burdens, including climate change as an environmental burden. The legislation also expands Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review to require an Environmental Impact Report for all projects that impact air quality within one mile of an Environmental Justice Neighborhood and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects. This change would, for the first time, require the agency to evaluate not just individual project impacts but also historic environmental pollution throughout the community through the permit process.
In December of 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration released two reports – theMassachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap Report and an interim 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) – that detailed policies and strategies to reduce emissions and combat climate change. The roadmap outlined the need to enhance energy efficiency measures and decarbonize existing buildings which would include most municipal and town buildings like schools, police departments, and water facilities.