City leaders strive to achieve Green Community designation
Date: 6/16/2010June 16, 2010.
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM -- On May 25, Gov. Deval Patrick revealed the 35 municipalities that completed a laborious five-step process to become green communities. Municipal leaders in Agawam are working to make their city number 36.
The city council is currently considering the adoption of a Stretch Energy Code, one of the five requirements for the green designation. The classification allows communities to be eligible for additional municipal renewable power and energy efficiency grants to help reduce consumption under the Green Communities Act of 2008.
"I'm really thrilled that Agawam seems to be a community on the forefront of this because it's so necessary to rethink [energy] use and consumption," City Councilor Jill Messick, member of Agawam's Green Committee and Energy Commission, said.
She explained she's working with the city solicitor to redraft the Stretch Energy Code Resolution -- requiring all new construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs, making them 20 percent more energy efficient than the current building code requires -- into an ordinance per the request of Council President Donald Rheault.
Director of the Department of Public Works Anthony Sylvia, chair of the Energy Commission, noted he and other members are working to complete the other four requirements: adoption of a zoning bylaw or ordinance allowing for as-of-right siting of renewable and alternative energy projects; adoption of an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities; establishment of a municipal energy use baseline and a program designed to reduce that use by 20 percent within five years; and establishment of a policy to purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use.
The Stretch Energy Code "will likely be part of the 2012 Building Code," Sylvia noted. "Stretch is a performance-based code that will require testing after building."
Such assessments include testing for leaks in HVAC systems or insulation, he added.
"Over the next couple of years, taking on this Stretch Code will enable the town to attain state grants. We don't want to miss the opportunity to take this on now," Sylvia said.
Messick explained state grants for green communities would be used to pay for energy efficient traffic lights and street lights, solar panels and other projects.
She added she hopes to submit an ordinance for the adoption of the Stretch Energy Code to the City Council at its next meeting on June 21.