The Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources officially declared Wellesley a Green Community back in December, but in my book something like that can’t really be official without a recognition event at Town Hall. That happened today, complete with town and state government luminaries in attendance and an oversize novelty check made out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the Town of Wellesley for $137,250 to prove it. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito was on hand, as well as Judith Judson, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources; Ellen Gibbs, chair of the Wellesley Board of Selectmen; Massachusetts State Senator Richard Ross; and town employees and representatives from green groups who have worked toward the effort.
The grant money is to fund two projects:
- An energy audit that will evaluate the Town’s major water and sewer pump stations and water treatment plants to identify potential energy use reductions throughout the system.
- An upgrade of one-hundred sixteen (116) existing, wall-mounted and pole-mounted exterior lights at the Department of Public Work’s operations yard and salt shed area on its Municipal Way campus.
In addition, the Green Communities designation and the $137,250 that comes with it makes the town eligible for future grants to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The idea is that the funds will support energy reduction projects that should save the town and taxpayers money. To earn the designation, Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee worked with the Facilities Management Department, Municipal Light Plant, Department of Public Works, Board of Selectmen’s office, Planning Department, and other departments, boards, and committees across town.
Wellesley’s first grant application included an exterior light-emitting diode (LED) project at the Department of Public Works and an audit of the Town’s water and wastewater treatment equipment and operations.
Wellesley, along with the approximately half of all municipalities in Massachusetts that also have earned a Green Communities designation, had to pledge to cut municipal energy use by an ambitious and achievable goal of 20 percent over five years and meet four other criteria established in the Green Communities Act. Those other benchmarks are:
- Work toward renewable energy development by adopting an expedited application and permitting process under which facilities interested in locating their facility in a designated renewable zone may be sited within the municipality.
- Establish an energy use baseline inventory for municipal buildings and facilities (which can include schools, water, wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations, and open space), street and traffic lighting, and vehicles; and adopt an Energy Reduction Plan (ERP) demonstrating a reduction of 20 percent of energy use after five years of implementation.
- Purchase fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable.
- Minimize the life-cycle cost of all newly constructed homes and buildings, as well as those undergoing major renovation, by adopting the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards Stretch Code (780 CMR 115.AA). Buildings constructed to the Stretch Code use significantly less energy than buildings built to other current and previous building codes.
The energy audit:
The proposed energy audit will evaluate the Town’s major water and sewer pump stations and water treatment plants to identify potential energy use reductions throughout the system. The Department of Public Works manages Wellesley’s water and wastewater systems, and drinking water comes primarily from Town wells. Energy required for Wellesley’s drinking water treatment and delivery and wastewater delivery constitutes about 6% of the municipality’s annual energy use. Drinking water equipment uses about 5% of the Town’s annual energy budget in the form of electricity, while wastewater equipment uses just .5 to 1% of the annual energy budget.
The audit will include assessment of the following:
- Three iron and manganese removal water treatment facilities (Longfellow/Rosemary, Morses Pond and Wellesley Avenue/T.F. Coughlin);
- Ten drinking water wells associated with the water treatment facilities;
- Hegarty water booster pumping station;
- Two large sewer lift stations; and
- Seventeen neighborhood sewer lift stations.
This assessment will be conducted by a consulting firm, which will assess the energy use/efficiency of current equipment and the potential energy savings that equipment modifications and replacements could offer.
The exterior LED retrofit project at the DPW:
This project will upgrade one-hundred sixteen (116) existing, wall-mounted and pole-mounted exterior lights at the DPW’s operations yard and salt shed area on its Municipal Way campus. The vast majority of existing lights are high-intensity discharge (HID); however, there are about a dozen existing LEDs. Upgrades will include both retrofitting existing fixtures and replacing existing fixtures. It is expected that upgrading the existing DPW lighting with more energy efficient LEDs will decrease the Town’s energy use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and save money on operating and maintenance costs. In addition, new full-cut-off fixtures will direct DPW’s exterior lighting to where it is needed, while shielding light from neighbors and wildlife.
Representatives from two other communities were also there to bask in the green glow of their own Green Communities designation. Stoneham received a grant of $169,615, while Waltham received $281,000.