Green Communities

2022 Update - Now 286 of Massachusetts communities fall under the Green Communities designation.

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Baker-Polito Administration Designates BOLTON as Green Communities

Award - $141,060

64% of Massachusetts Residents Live In Green Communities!

BOSTON – February 2, 2017 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that an additional 30 Massachusetts cities and towns have been designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, committing to an ambitious renewable energy agenda to reduce energy consumption and emissions. With today’s designation, over half of the Commonwealth’s municipalities have earned their Green Communities designation and 64 percent of residents live in a Green Community. The 30 new Green Communities are now eligible for grants totaling $6,460,385 to complete renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in their communities. Since the program began in 2010, DOER’s Green Communities division has awarded over $65 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and town through designation and competitive grant rounds.

“The Green Communities program is an excellent example of how state and local governments can work together to save taxpayer money and promote responsible energy policies,” saidGovernor Charlie Baker. “The thirty new Green Communities named today will now have additional resources to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, locking in energy savings for residents and reducing their carbon footprints.”

“Our municipal partners continue to help lead the way on renewable energy by adopting practices that reduce their energy consumption, while channeling savings toward vital municipal functions, like public safety and education,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We will continue to provide cities and towns across the Commonwealth the tools they need to reduce energy costs, usage and emissions.”

The Commonwealth’s 185 Green Communities range from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and are home to 64 percent of Massachusetts’ population in municipalities as large as Boston and as small as Rowe. Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding, including reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. The newly designated Green Communities have committed to reducing their energy consumption amounting to savings of $6,241,862 of energy costs and 2,234,090 MMBtu in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering nearly 2,718 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 27,641 metric tons, equivalent to taking 5,819 cars off the roads.

“When Massachusetts’ cities and towns invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs everyone wins, from taxpayers savings to a statewide reduction in emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton. “With today’s designation, DOER’s Green Communities program continues to prove an effective tool in building a clean, renewable energy future for the Commonwealth.”

“DOER is proud to work with cities and towns across Massachusetts as they take important steps in embracing renewable energy and energy efficiency at the local level,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judson. “Today’s designations are simply the beginning of an important relationship between the Commonwealth and our municipal partners as we work towards our shared clean energy goals.”



Bolton Residents were invited to attend an education & outreach session held on March 8th at the Bolton Public Library to learn about the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program through the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Presentations were given by Kelly Brown, Central MA Regional Coordinator for DOER’S Green Communities Division, and Mike Berry, Stretch Energy Code Consultant for DOER. This event was recorded by Bolton Access TV and can be viewed on YouTube under: BL Green Communities and Stretch Code. Additionally, the presentation slides can be downloaded from below. The following is a summary of the information provided:

The Green Communities Act requires compliance with five criteria for Bolton to qualify as a Green Community. These five criteria include adopting as-of-right siting for RE/AE generation, R&D, or manufacturing; adopting an expedited permitting process for said as-of-right siting; creating an energy reduction plan to reduce energy use by 20% in 5 years; purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles; and adopting the Stretch Energy Code. By meeting these five criteria, Bolton would be designated a Green Community and would receive significant grant funding for energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects on municipal land. Grant allocations are based on a $125k base plus a population/per capita income formula. Bolton is estimated to receive $140,000 in grant funding. If approved, Bolton could potentially use the grant funding toward improving the energy efficiency of the Houghton Building or another energy efficiency project. Competitive grants are also available up to $250,000 annually for Green Communities that have expended all prior grant funds.

One hundred fifty-five communities across the Commonwealth have been designated Green Communities and 161 municipalities have adopted the Stretch Energy Code. Among these communities are Acton, Ayer, Berlin, Harvard, Lancaster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Maynard and Westford. Harvard received $367,114 to fund energy conservation measures such as demand control ventilation upgrades, building automation system upgrades, interior/exterior LED lighting retrofits, lighting controls for hallways, installation of an efficient furnace, energy efficient boiler replacements, and CO2 sensor upgrades. Berlin received $261,312 to fund energy conservation measures such as building envelope improvements, installation of an AHU-1 economizer and upgrade of HVAC energy management systems.

In order for Bolton to be designated as a Green Community, it must adopt this code as a general bylaw at town meeting. The Board of Selectmen and Planning Board are supporting such an article for Annual Town Meeting 2016.

For residential, the Stretch Code applies to additions, home renovations and new construction. For commercial, the Stretch Code applies to new construction and additions of 5,000 square feet or more. It requires residential construction to be 15-20% more energy efficient and Commercial construction to be 20% more energy efficient.

Currently Bolton is required to meet the IECC 2012 Energy Code as part of the MA State Building Code. In general, the current energy code requires a prescriptive path to meet energy efficiency requirements. The Stretch Code allows for a performance path where the whole house is given a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating where tradeoffs can be made in order to meet the required rating. Less efficient homes that consume more energy will score a higher HERS rating (100 being the highest). A HERS rating of 0 means a zero energy home that consumes no energy. It is important to note that prescriptive codes do not guarantee good installation, air and water tightness, or that thermal insulation is effective. Under the Stretch Code, a HERS Rater will conduct inspection and provide an energy model based on verified performance and equipment.

Residential incentives/rebates are also available through Mass Save and their Massachusetts Residential new Construction Program.

The MA base energy code is expected to update on July 1, 2016. The Stretch Code is likely to update on January 1, 2017. The new Stretch Code will align with the IECC 2015 with no major changes with renovations and additions.

Mike Sauvageau, Bolton’s Building Inspector, shared that although he was against the Stretch Code in 2011, he is now in favor for several reasons:

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been mandated by the federal government to adopt the "International Energy Code" and its new editions every three years. Currently "stretch code" communities can use the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. Non-stretch code communities must use the 2012 energy code.

While a new energy code will be adopted sometime this year, as well as a modification to the current "stretch code", the current 2012 code that Bolton uses has for the most part aligned it's requirements up to include current aspects of the "stretch code...Most builders are currently building energy star homes that meet the standards of the stretch code whether they are in a stretch code community or not so that they can be competitive in the market.

The fact that the requirements of the current energy code and the "stretch Code" are almost the same and the fact that the "stretch Code" allows for tradeoffs for energy compliance that gives the owners of homes more flexibility to meet the energy code than the current 2012 energy code, I feel that there are enough exceptions for existing houses and better paths of compliance by using the "Stretch Code".

Additionally, the current non stretch energy code is requiring many of the stretch codes requirements. All being said, I see no reason not to adopt the Stretch Code.”