Sunderland moves closer to ‘green community’ status
SUNDERLAND – The Sunderland Elementary School Committee has moved the town one step closer to achieving the status of an official Green Community after it promised to purchase energy-efficient vehicles in the future and to participate in the town’s energy reduction plan.
Created in 2008 by the Green Communities Act, the Green Communities program works to help make the state’s 351 cities and towns more energy efficient. The goal is to help municipalities maximize energy efficiency in town halls, school buildings and public safety complexes. Since its inception, 86 cities and towns have earned the Green Communities Designation, including Chesterfield, Deerfield and Leverett.
To be designated a Green Community, the town must meet five criteria: provide by-right siting for renewable energy and manufacturing facilities, adopt an expedited application and permit process for by-right energy facilities, establish a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent in five years, purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, and adopt the new energy-efficient building codes called the Stretch Code.
Laura Williams of the Sunderland Energy Committee said the town began to seek the designation three years ago due to high costs to replace out-of-date boiler and HVAC systems.
Siemens Building Technologies, a firm that maximizes energy efficiency in buildings, conducted an audit on the elementary school and public safety complex to identify where energy is lost.
Once the town determines its needs, Siemens will replace the old systems. In return, for the next 20 years, the town will pay the company from money saved through energy savings. Williams said the deal will not cost the town.
With the School Committee’s approval, the town is close to accomplishing all five criteria. To fulfill the energy reduction plan, the school will receive a new boiler at no cost to the district.
Sunderland needs final approval by the Select Board. The town plans to complete the application by the May 29 state deadline.