The Massachusetts Green Community Act of 2008 created the Green Communities Division of the Department of Energy and Resources to help municipalities become more sustainable, control rising energy costs and incubate clean energy technologies. The intent was to put Massachusetts cities and towns at the forefront of the 21st century clean energy economy and reduce the use of fossil fuels causing climate change. In order to promote participation, the act mandates that financial grants be awarded to participating towns.
In order to achieve green status, the municipality must reduce energy use by 20 percent over five years, purchase energy efficient vehicles when possible, adopt a building code that minimizes life cycle energy costs, and revise zoning regulations to expedite the siting of alternative energy industries.
To date, 240 of the 351 municipalities in the commonwealth have become Green Communities, and the towns of Norfolk, North Attleboro, Norton, Wrentham and Mansfield are currently working toward the designation.
The financial incentives and energy savings are primary reasons why so many municipalities have participated.
Upon entering the program, a grant dependent on a municipality’s population is awarded. If Foxboro enters the program, the grant would be about $155,000. In subsequent years, the grants are awarded on a competitive basis.
As reported in The Foxboro Reporter on Oct. 3, Joanne Bissetta, Green Communities deputy director, delivered a presentation to the selectman. At that meeting, the concern expressed was that the town may not meet the 20 percent energy reduction requirement because of recent building upgrades.
This question can be answered by a no-cost third party energy audit. The audit would provide the information necessary to make a decision on the future of this program. It will also allow the town to estimate the financial benefits resulting from the state grants, energy savings and energy rebates.
In our community, there is growing awareness of climate change in the general population, as well as by faith-based, social and political organizations.
If the town decides to participate, there will likely be opportunities for town residents to become involved and make a real contribution to the climate change problem.
This Green Communities program could be a win-win for our town. If you feel the same way, feel free to contact the selectman and express your support.