by Eileen Mathieu, Clean Energy and Public Policy Working Group Leader
The Net Zero Roadmap was adopted unanimously by the Select Board on Wednesday, May 10. Sustainable Marblehead has had two members on the Green Marblehead Committee (GMC) for four years beginning in October 2019, and we worked with the 11-member committee to develop a vision and a roadmap to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
As part of the Net Zero Roadmap, it was recommended by the GMC that the Town hire a Sustainability Coordinator. Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer, Select Board member Alexa Singer, and Town Planner Becky Curran Cutting worked together to develop a job description and to identify funding opportunities that Sustainability Coordinators in other towns have brought to their municipalities. Kezer included the positions of Sustainability Coordinator and Human Resources Manager in his level-funded budget proposal, which was passed at Town Meeting on May 1.
The Sustainability Coordinator will identify and apply for grants from Federal and State sources for many Town municipal buildings’ energy-efficiency projects, including: insulating and repairing windows, repairing roofs to be insulated and solar ready, installing insulated doors, improving and transitioning heating and cooling systems to more efficient and electric HVAC such as Air Source Heat Pumps, and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles. These upgrades will result in more efficient Municipal buildings and will offer cost savings to the Town going forward. In other towns, grants of $250,000 to $400,000 have been procured yearly by Sustainability Coordinators, resulting in savings from reduced fuel, electricity and heating costs and bringing yearly savings to their Towns’ budgets.
There were many recommendations in the Net Zero Plan on how we can work together as a community to reduce carbon emissions. Some examples include the planting of more Town trees, making the Town more bike and pedestrian friendly to reduce the use of cars, increasing composting, increasing rooftop solar, and considering universal school busing and electric school buses. There are also recommendations to increase electrification of buildings and cars, to improve incentives for electrification of homes and buildings, to increase EV charging including at condos and rental units, and to transition to all non-emitting sources of electricity for MMLD. There is an index at the end of the document that consolidates the recommendations into categories for quick reference.