In Massachusetts, hundreds of communities are investing in efficiency upgrades for municipal buildings, senior centers, schools, firehouses, police stations and the like – and they’re being funded by the state’s Green Communities program. The program – which just expanded to accept 25 new cities and towns – provides access to grants for energy efficiency projects and is a successful model for state and local governments to “achieve impactful progress and responsible savings,” according to Governor Charlie Baker.
Funds are being used for HVAC and lighting upgrades, weatherization projects, public charging stations for electric vehicles, equipment retrofits, the purchase of electric vehicles, installation of energy management systems, and more.
The Green Communities grants are funded by payments required of retail electric suppliers that fail to meet their renewable energy portfolio requirements, as well as by carbon allowance auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Communities joining the program are required to adopt a speedy permitting schedule for renewable energy generation facilities and to enforce building codes that set stricter energy efficiency requirements on new construction, according to the Patriot Ledger. Communities must also undergo a baseline energy audit to determine current energy use and to set future goals.
The program currently has 210 participating communities, accounting for 68% of the state’s population.