Communities go ‘Green'

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Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles announced on Wednesday that the cities of North Adams and Pittsfield and the towns of Adams, Becket, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, New Marlborough, Savoy, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Williamstown are among 103 municipalities to receive free private energy consulting services.

Consultants overseen by the EEA's Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will work with local officials to develop action plans for meeting all five criteria required for designation as a state "Green Community."

Cities and towns that earn this status will then be eligible to apply for Green Communities grants totaling up to $10 million statewide annually to target locally based clean energy projects.

To qualify for the free consulting services, communities were required to submit a letter from their chief local official committing to meet all five Green Communities benchmarks within one year of receiving the technical assistance award and to have an established energy committee or partnership with a community energy organization.

The receive official Green Communities designation, the above Berkshire cities and towns must now:

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n Adopt a local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows "as-of-right-siting" of renewable energy projects;

n Adopt an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;

n Establish a municipal energy use baseline and establish a program designed to reduce baseline use by 20 percent within five years;

n Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable;

n Require all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs.


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