Selectmen endorse plan to move Marion toward Green Community designation
The Board of Selectmen endorsed a plan on Tuesday that will bring Marion closer to becoming a designated "Green Community."
The Massachusetts legislature passed the Green Communities Act in 2008 as a way to encourage towns to become more energy efficient. Grants are available to towns that meet the state's prescribed criteria. Currently, 222 out of 351 municipalities in the state have qualified for the program.
Jennifer Francis of the town's Energy Management Committee gave a presentation to the selectmen, explaining the benefits of being designated as a Green Community and laying out a plan for the town to get there.
The grant money that Green Communities are eligible for are “no small peanuts,” Francis said. Nearby towns such as Acushnet, Lakeville, New Bedford and Dartmouth have all received state grants ranging from $200,000 to $600,000 since enrolling in the program.
To become a Green Community, towns must have a plan to decrease municipal energy consumption by 20 percent in five years, replace various municipal vehicles with energy-efficient ones, have a designated area in town where renewable energy installations, such as solar panels, can be installed without special permitting, and adopt building codes that require builders of new homes and commercial buildings to use more energy-efficient methods.
The town has already acquired energy-efficient vehicles -- including four electric cars obtained through grant funds in 2016. Officials also established a designated place for renewable energy installations -- a 50-acre area around a landfill site on Benson Brook Road.
To achieve the building code requirement, the town will need to adopt a “stretch” building code that promotes higher energy efficiency, Francis told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. The code would need to be approved by voters at Town Meeting.
The board gave the Energy Management Committee its blessing to begin drafting a measure that could be added to the Town Meeting agenda in the fall.
For more information about the state Green Communities program, visit: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/green-communities-division.