The landmark Green Communities Act of 2008 stimulates clean technology innovation and helps cities and towns and their residents reduce their utility bills. This signature program rewards communities with a Green Community status and eligibility for a select pool of grant funds when five clean energy benchmarks are met.
- Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows "as-of-right-siting" of renewable energy projects
- Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities
- Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and establishing a program designed to reduce use by 20 percent within five years
- Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable
- Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building "stretch codes")
Under the Green Communities Act, DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can provide up to $20 million annually to qualified cities and towns. The goal of the Designation Grant Program is to support communities’ investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the designated communities. Initial Designation Grants are based on a $125,000 base for each designated Green Community, plus additional amounts tied to per capita income and population, and for municipalities that provide as-of-right siting for renewable energy generation.
Newburyport officials were inspired to pursue Green Community designation to achieve various goals, including creating a system for managing overall energy use, qualifying for state energy grants, and saving money through reduced energy costs. In 2010, Newburyport became a designated Green Community and opted to use its Green Communities grant funds for energy efficiency projects in municipal buildings.
For more information on Green Communities, please visit https://www.mass.gov/green-communities-designation-grant-program.