Ferrera's Green Commission aims to save city's energy and funds
Date: 1/25/2010 Jan. 25, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD -- City Councilor James Ferrera and his newly formed Green City Commission intend to draw up a plan within 18 months that will save the city money and energy.
Ferrera said the goal of the group is to determine measures that would reduce the city's carbon footprint. He added he hopes the commission eventually will be made into a standing committee of the City Council.
Ferrera and commission members Martyn Gallagher and Colleen O'Connor met with Reminder Publications
last week and said they hope to attract city residents to either serve on the commission or to submit ideas to it. The next meeting, which is open to the public, will be Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the City Council offices.
Gallagher said that ideas would be given to the commission through a blind submission form that will "keep the politics and the personalities out of it."
Ferrera said he expects the commission will meet twice a month and the meetings will have speakers from various energy-savings businesses. He also would like to bring the commission's message to the city's neighborhood councils and civic associations.
Gallagher said 18 months from now the commission should have a list of recommendations for three main areas of concern: energy efficiency, rules for new construction and transportation. He expects that by July 1, the commission will be prepared to begin work on the plan of action.
Ferrera said he expects the finished plan will be similar to "Greenprint," the energy conservation plan for Providence, R.I. Ferrera said the city saved $1 million through the plan for the period from 2007 to 2008.
The Providence plan includes initiatives to reduce emissions from city vehicles, increasing the bicycle infrastructure, increasing recycling rates, reducing the use of paper in city offices, issuing a green municipal purchasing policy, eliminating bottled water use in municipal buildings and supporting green job training.
When asked how Springfield could find the funding for green programs, Ferrera said that as the city goes through its normal budgeting process green products and strategies will be discussed with department heads.
"I'd advocate for green in the budget," he said.
He added he has already reached out to Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick J. Sullivan as Sullivan has taken energy savings measures in his department.
O'Connor noted that many green practices -- such as printing on both sides of a sheet of paper -- are low cost and provide a savings.
Gallagher said the city has a major construction job ahead of it -- the new Putnam High School -- where green practices could be used.
The other members of the commission at this time are Ronald Jordan, Brian Markey, Miguel Soto, Burt Freedman, Darryl Williams and Gladys Franco.