(From left) Mark Sylvia, Undersecretary of Energy, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; David Kale, Belmont Town Administrator; Maeve Vallely-Bartlett, Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; State Rep. Dave Rogers; Andy Rojas, Chair, Board of Selectmen; Sami Baghdady, Vice-Chair, Board of Selectmen; Ian Todreas, Co-Chair, Belmont Energy Committee; Gerry Boyle, Belmont’s Director of Facilities, Meg Lusardi, Acting Commissioner, Department of Energy Resources.
After being formally submitted to the Board of Selectmen this summer, Belmont was named by Gov. Deval Patrick as one the state’s latest Green Communities at a State House ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
Belmont was one of 13 municipalities named and is now eligible for grants up to $151,850 to encourage energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy by the town.
As a designated Green Community, Belmont will be eligible to apply for future grants to fund local renewable power and energy saving projects.
“Collaboration has real power, particularly when we’re trying to do something new and innovative,” said Patrick.
Belmont became eligible to become a “green community” after meeting five criteria including
- renewable energy-friendly zoning,
- expedited permitting,
- programs to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years,
- the purchase of fuel-efficient municipal vehicles, and
- the an energy efficiency requirement – known as the “stretch” code – for new commercial/industrial construction, as well as residential construction of more than 3,000 sq.-ft. The Belmont Town Meeting adopted a “stretch code” in May 2011.
After expressing concerns of possible unintended financial consequences from being designated a green community, the Selectmen created a working group to review the proposal. As part of the application process, an energy audit by Marlborough-based Guardian Energy of all town buildings to review the lighting, water use, and windows was completed to create an energy reduction plan. The application was submitted to the state in October.
Next for the town is a more detailed analysis of municipal buildings and the costs associated with meeting the Green Communities goals. If the town does go to the next step and apply for grants, Guardian Energy will implement the required improvements.
Funded by a regional cap-and-trade program, more than $30 million have been paid out to city and towns since 2010. With the announcement, 136 of the state’s 351 communities have joined the program.