Selectmen endorse plan to move Marion toward Green Community designation

By Bryan Bowman | Jun 05, 2018
The Board of Selectmen during a meeting on June 5, 2018.

Marion — The Board of Selectmen endorsed a plan on Tuesday that will bring Marion closer to becoming a designated "Green Community."

The Massachusetts legislature passed the Green Communities Act in 2008 as a way to encourage towns to become more energy efficient. Grants are available to towns that meet the state's prescribed criteria. Currently, 222 out of 351 municipalities in the state have qualified for the program.

Jennifer Francis of the town's Energy Management Committee gave a presentation to the selectmen, explaining the benefits of being designated as a Green Community and laying out a plan for the town to get there.

The grant money that Green Communities are eligible for are “no small peanuts,” Francis said. Nearby towns such as Acushnet, Lakeville, New Bedford and Dartmouth have all received state grants ranging from $200,000 to $600,000 since enrolling in the program.

To become a Green Community, towns must have a plan to decrease municipal energy consumption by 20 percent in five years, replace various municipal vehicles with energy-efficient ones, have a designated area in town where renewable energy installations, such as solar panels, can be installed without special permitting, and adopt building codes that require builders of new homes and commercial buildings to use more energy-efficient methods.

The town has already acquired energy-efficient vehicles -- including four electric cars obtained through grant funds in 2016. Officials also established a designated place for renewable energy installations -- a 50-acre area around a landfill site on Benson Brook Road.

To achieve the building code requirement, the town will need to adopt a “stretch” building code that promotes higher energy efficiency, Francis told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. The code would need to be approved by voters at Town Meeting.

The board gave the Energy Management Committee its blessing to begin drafting a measure that could be added to the Town Meeting agenda in the fall.

For more information about the state Green Communities program, visit: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/green-communities-division.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Ted North | Jun 06, 2018 14:50

 

VOTE NO for a new stretch building code at the Fall Town Meeting. If your contemplating remodeling, adding to you existing home or business or building a new one this stretch code will cost you real money. The cost of Marion construction goes up.

 

Once again, the Energy Management Committee (EMC) is telling voters what they must do. In this case the EMC is mandating how green you’re to remodel, add to, or build a new house.

 

How much money to spend on your building project should be an individual decision not Town mandated. It’s not the EMC’s business to tell me how green I need to be That’s my decision and yours too.

 

The impetus for the stretch building code is it’s one of the five required criteria for Marion to qualify to become a designated Green Community. Once it’s a designated Green Community the Town can apply for state grant money for municipal energy projects. Marion is a small community so the opportunity for qualifying projects limited.

Statewide funding for Green community projects is about $20 million smaller than Marion’s FY 2019 operating budget is $22.8 million. This means that for the 350 municipalities there is an allocation of $57,000 per community if all qualified. There are 285 qualifying Green Communities.  The program stated in 2008. Over the ten years $80 million in state wide grants have been awarded or an average $8 million annually. Grants are capped at $250,000 per community. The most Marion could receive in grant money would cover the cost of a house remodeling job.

 

The cost to the Town and taxpayer to meet the Green Communities compliance requirements far exceed the de minimis amounts of grant money the Town would receive. The EMC will never be able to provide the staff work analysis the Board of Selectmen should require justifying the cost benefits of Green Communities recognition.

 

The question for taxpayers is do you want to pay increase construction costs plus increase municipal cost of Green Communities compliance that will far exceed a few crumbs of state grant money? I sure don’t!

 

Ted North, Marion

 

 

 



Posted by: jafrancis | Jun 08, 2018 09:01

It appears that Mr. North has found a source of alternative facts regarding the stretch building code and the Green Communities program. Please allow me to set the record straight (and you can verify this for yourself at https://www.mass.gov/guides/becoming-a-designated-green-community):

 

1) The stretch building code would apply ONLY to new homes -- NOT remodels, NOT renovations, and NOT additions. It also would apply to new large commercial/industrial buildings that would likely not happen in Marion.

 

2) The Stretch Code is only slightly more restrictive than the existing state building code.

 

3) Compared to the existing building code requirements, meeting the more energy-efficient stretch building code would add about 0.7% to the cost of a new $300,000 home, which would be paid back through energy savings in 1 to 8 years, depending on the type of HVAC selected. After that the energy savings would go right into your wallet.

 

4) When Marion joins the 60% of Massachusetts towns that are already Green Communities, we will immediately be awarded about $150,000 in grant money, then be eligible for much more thereafter. Some of our neighboring towns have already received a lot of grant money through this program: Acushnet -- $496,000, Lakeville -- $547,000, New Bedford -- $604,000, and Dartmouth -- $224,000. Now these towns are using these funds to make their municipal infrastructure more energy efficient, saving money for ALL their residents.

 

I don't call this amount of grant money "crumbs." Do you?

 

Jennifer Francis

Marion's Energy Management Committee

 



Posted by: Ted North | Jun 09, 2018 10:13

 

Falmouth town meeting just rejected the stretch building code for the reasons given and so should Marion. Ted North



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