Voters to consider energy efficient measures to earn Wareham grants

Feb 27, 2018

The Planning Board discussed painting the town “green” on Monday night, considering options to increase energy efficiency in Wareham and receive grants.

Jim Barry, the Western Massachusetts regional coordinator for the Green Communities Grant Program, gave a presentation on the program, resulting in board members voting to add an item to the Special Town Meeting agenda asking voters to approve a “stretch energy code.” The meeting will be held April 23 in Wareham High School.

The stretch energy code would require all new construction to be energy efficient. This only applies to new residential construction. Additions, renovations and repairs are exempt from this building code.

By becoming a "green community," Wareham will be eligible for grants to spend on energy efficiency. The minimum is $125,000 as a base grant, with the opportunity to receive more funds going forward. The grant money can be applied toward efficiency and renewable energy in municipal buildings such as schools, fire departments and town halls.

If the town adopts the code, all new houses would go through a home energy rating system. An energy subcontractor (costing $1,600 to $3,000) would help design and inspect the house to ensure energy efficiency. There is a MassSave rebate that covers much of that extra cost, Barry said.

"It's not rocket science, it's not difficult to do, but it's also not trivial," Barry said.

In one example Barry gave, conforming to the green guidelines added $2,600 to the cost of building a house.

The stretch code would also apply to new commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet in size, and 40B housing projects would not be exempt from the code.

There are already 210 communities in Massachusetts designated as green.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote to adopt the stretch energy code at the spring Town Meeting, set for April 23 in Wareham High School.