The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources announced this week that the City of Chicopee has been designated as a Green Community. The designation comes as the City meets criteria of the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program and affirms Chicopee’s position as an energy leader in Massachusetts.
A grant of $367,160 has also been awarded to the City along with the designation. This grant will allow Chicopee to reduce energy costs, improve the local environment, and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Projects the City may use this grant for include replacing roofs, updating current Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning equipment, installing LED lighting, and re-insulating municipal buildings throughout the City. The grant may also be used to conduct studies on the energy efficiency of these building to help lower energy costs.
“I especially thank the City Council and School Committee as well as all the departments for working so well together to achieve this goal,” said Mayor Richard Kos. “Energy efficiency is not only a benefit to the City but simply the right thing to do.”
The criteria that the City of Chicopee met for this designation was to provide as-of-right siting for renewable/alternative energy generation, adopt an expedited application process for as-of-right energy facilities, establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20% within five years, purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles, and set requirements to minimalize life-cycle energy costs for new construction.
The City of Chicopee already allows as-of-right siting through its zoning ordinances and established timetables for the review of as-of-right applications fell within guidelines for the program.
Working with different City Departments, energy data from municipal buildings was collected and analyzed from baseline fiscal year 2015 to prioritize projects to fit the 20% reduction goal over the next five years. Projects that fell under this goal were the conversion of street lights to LEDs and roof replacement at the Belcher and Fairview schools. Energy efficiency will be factored into improvements at City Hall as the prioritized work continues. The City is also researching new policies and strategies to further reduce energy costs in municipal buildings. Future projects will be prioritized by highest annual cost savings in order to help identify additional sources of funds to implement all of the required energy efficient improvements to meet the energy reduction goals.
At the November 1, 2016 Chicopee City Council meeting, Councilors voted to adopt the proposed energy reduction plan, a fuel-efficient vehicle policy with a plan to replace non-exempt vehicles with fuel efficient models, and a stretch energy code for the design and construction of buildings for the effective use of energy.
Lee Pouliot, the City’s Planning Director stated, “Chicopee’s designation as a Green Community confirms the City’s commitment to advancing energy conscious design while focusing on improvements to reduce energy demand over the long term. Being a Green Community recognizes the City’s efforts to date, while confirming our commitment to long term efforts related to conservation, sustainable practices and resiliency.”
The City will also receive signage and a certificate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts proclaiming the designation as a Green Community.