Town Administrator Paul Dawson and the Marion Board of Selectmen are pleased to announce that the Town of Marion was designated as a Green Community by the state late last month.
“With so much conversation being made lately about the environment and our impact on it, this designation as a Green Community comes at just the right time,” Town Administrator Dawson said. “I think it all starts at home with everyone being mindful of the ways we can do a better job of protecting our environment and I am proud that the town has been recognized by the state for taking its own steps in doing just that.”
In a letter sent by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), Selectman Chair Norman Hills was notified of the new designation for the town on Thursday, December 27.
The DOER Green Communities Division provides technical assistance and financial support for municipal initiatives to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in public buildings, facilities, and schools.
There are five criteria to be a Green Community. Meeting those criteria qualifies communities for state funding to increase their efforts. The criteria are:
-Provide as-of-right siting in designated locations for renewable/alternative energy generation, research and development, or manufacturing facilities.
-Adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities.
-Establish an energy use baseline for municipal buildings and facilities, and develop a plan to reduce energy use by twenty percent after five years
-Purchase fuel-efficient vehicles when available and practicable
-Minimize life-cycle energy costs for new construction homes and buildings; one way to meet these requirements is to adopt the new Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) Stretch Code
“Meeting these criteria is proof of Marion’s position as an energy leader in Massachusetts, poised to reduce its energy costs, improve the local environment and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with funding through the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program,” Nicholas Connors Director of the Green Communities Division wrote in his letter to Selectman Hills.
Marion’s Energy Management Committee (EMC) has led the town’s effort to gain Green Community status since 2013 and 2014 when it promoted the Solar Bylaw and began to investigate the Stretch Code. More than 100 solar projects have been installed in town since that time.
With the help of the EMC, the town has also executed a power purchase agreement with Future Generation Wind to net meter electric power to town buildings and facilities at savings in excess of $90,000 per year.
In addition, the town was able to lease four electric vehicles for the use of town departments with help from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Currently EMC has proposed and overseen the replacement of all of the town’s cobra-head streetlights with more efficient LED fixtures for additional energy savings.
With the new Green Community designation, the town has been awarded a grant of $132,672 to cover the cost of additional energy-saving projects. A list of the proposed projects is presently being developed for submission to the Green Communities Division.