Wareham earns $205,000 grant, ‘Green Community’ designation
Wareham is among the 30 cities and towns to recently receive a “Green Community” designation from the state, it also received a $205,000 grant to improve energy efficiency.
Launched in 2010 and overseen by the Department of Energy Resources, the program aims to reduce energy consumption and emissions. It does that by offering communities with the designation the opportunity to apply for grants. Since the program began, state officials have awarded more than $100 million in grants. Those grants are used for projects to reduce municipal energy costs.
The town is also now eligible to apply for additional grants to complete renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Wareham.
State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford said the news was welcome.
"This is something that Wareham town officials have been working diligently on for some time now. I am so pleased that we will be able to take advantage of the grant funding that comes along with this very important designation," said Gifford. "This is a great step forward."
Selectmen Chair Alan Slavin also applauded the announcement, which arrived on Dec. 26.
Slavin said he’s been pushing for the town to become a green community for the past six years.
“I’m pretty happy,” said Slavin. “The program will make us more efficient and lower our costs by providing us with grants to help lower our energy use.”
With the announcement, there are now 240 green communities in Massachusetts.
All green communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent each. To achieve that, proposed projects include LED interior lighting upgrades across schools and municipal buildings and HVAC upgrades to improve efficiency.
Town Administrator Derek Sullivan offered thanks to Slavin and Gifford for their efforts in securing the designation and grant.
“We are excited to receive the Green Communities designation. Representative Gifford and Chairman Slavin were instrumental in pushing this forward,” said Sullivan. “I would also like to thank Seth Pickering our Green Communities Coordinator for all his guidance. We look forward to use the grants from this designation to further reduce the own's energy costs.”
Sullivan said town officials will be exploring potential uses for the $205,000 grant.
In addition to cutting energy consumption, there are four other criteria that a town must meet in order to qualify as a Green Community. These include adopting the Stretch Energy Building Code (requiring new construction meet high energy efficiency requirements), having designated zoning for renewable energy sources such as solar fields, replacing various municipal vehicles with energy-efficient ones and allowing renewable energy installations be built without special permitting.
Sullivan said that progress has already been made towards reducing Wareham’s energy consumption by closing the Minot Forest Elementary school and replacing the lights in all town buildings with LEDs.