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Longmeadow designated as new Green Community

Date: 12/26/2013

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW – Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration announced on Dec. 18 that Longmeadow was recently designated one of 13 new Green Communities in Massachusetts.

With the designation by the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER), the town has the opportunity to take advantage of grant funding for energy efficiency projects and renewable power initiatives. Through the program, Longmeadow could receive as much as $155,125.

Town Manager Stephen Crane told Reminder Publications that the town is in the midst of preparing its capital plan and would look into toward which expenditures the grant funding could be used.

“We’re in the middle of drafting our capital plan and there are some projects that are a part of our capital plan that were featured in the energy reduction program,” he said. “The plan is not done, but there are some things like boiler replacements and window replacements on the five-year plan. Also, we looked at streetlight conversion and there are a lot of things we could do under our energy reduction plan.”

Once those projects are identified, the town must ask the state to approve the release of the money to fund those projects.

“We have to apply for the money and come up with a separate project agreement for each thing,” Crane said. “We have the right to the money, but we have to make a separate application. We have to justify how we are going to spend the money.”

A total of 123 cities and towns have received the Green Community designation to this point. Springfield, Holyoke, Monson are among the other local municipalities to take part in the program.

In order to become a Green Community, a town must complete five steps.

The community must adopt local zoning changes to allow “as-of-right siting,” which would allow for the construction of alternative energy sources without a special permit and adopt an expedited permitting for the as-of-right facilities.

Towns must also develop a municipal energy program that would reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years and purchase only fuel-efficient municipal vehicles when available and practical.

The stretch energy code must also be adopted. The code required all new residential construction measuring more than 3,000 square feet, as well as all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to be built reduce energy costs.