Arlington, MA's Climate Action Contribution
About Arlington, MA's Climate Efforts
Town Meeting adopted the Arlington Sustainability Action Plan in 2006. Steps taken as part of the Sustainability Action Plan set the stage for Arlington to be one of the first Green Communities designated by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in the spring of 2010. One of the criteria to earn designation in the Green Communities program is to establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years. Arlington met this goal by 2014, and has continued to drive down energy use in subsequent years.
Arlington has made extensive improvements to HVAC equipment in town facilities, installed energy efficient light, and taken other energy reduction steps, including:
- Installation of new, efficient natural gas boilers in place of outdated oil boilers in the library and
- Installation of energy management systems (EMS) to provide centralized control, scheduling and
monitoring of HVAC systems in almost all town buildings, including the schools.
- Upgrades of fan motors to properly sized, energy efficient models
- Installation of variable frequency drives to adjust motor speeds to match output requirements
- Steam system maintenance – Arlington has replaced failed steam traps to avoid wasting steam in schools.
- Interior lighting upgrades and controls – Arlington has upgraded interior lighting and installed occupancy
sensors to automatically turn lighting on and off based on occupancy in a few buildings.
- Exterior lighting upgrades and controls – The town upgraded much of its exterior lighting to energy efficient LED technology, including street lights, parking lot lights, and exterior lighting at schools and Department of Public Works (DPW) garages. The town also installed sensors outside the DPW administration building to automatically control the lights based on the level of daylight.
LEED Silver Required
Arlington requires all new municipal buildings, as well as major renovations to existing buildings, to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.
Arlington is steadily purchasing energy efficient vehicles, including zero emissions battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Arlington’s policy is to purchase the most fuel efficient vehicle available that meets performance requirements. The town has installed electric vehicle charging stations at three Town buildings and one public parking lot so far, and is studying additional locations.
Arlington Community Choice Aggregation
In August of 2017 the Town of Arlington launched the Arlington Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program for residents and businesses. The program offers participants exciting renewable energy options from which to choose, including a 100% clean energy option. The program was approved by Arlington Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (see https://arlingtoncca.com/ for more info.)
Solar Panels on Arlington Schools
In December 2015 Arlington installed roof-top solar panels at six public schools, producing carbon free energy. Students and residents alike can view how much energy is being produced on giant LED screens at each school or online at arlingtonma.gov/energy. The display shows installed capacity and energy generation in kilowatts, megawatt hours, and in terms of trees planted and gasoline saved, plus other user friendly metrics that readers may view at anytime. It is estimated these solar panels will generate 850,000 kWh in the first year of system operation and 16 million kWh over 20 years. Arlington’s renewable generation will help reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from New England fossil fuel-fired electric generation plants by approximately 586 metric tons annually, the equivalent to removing 123 cars from the road or powering 54 houses. Over 20 years, the six systems will help prevent the emissions of 11,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide; the same as eliminating over 2,300 cars off the road. The total installed capacity of the six solar systems is nearly 720 kW.
Net Zero by 2050
In 2018 Arlington joined the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition (MMC), comprised of Boston and 14 surrounding communities that share best practices and work together on common goals. Communities that join the MMC must commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (http://www.mapc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/FINAL-Metropolitan-Mayors-Climate-Mitigation-Commitment.pdf). We will soon form a committee of town residents and representatives from government, businesses, school, and subject matter experts to help lead the Town’s net zero by 2050 campaign.
Climate Action Commitments
Current Climate Actions Arlington, MA Is Taking:
Purchase renewable power or build on-site renewable electricity to run local government needs
Powering your own operations with renewable electricity or using local government buildings and land to site solar PV panels is within the decision-making authority of most localities and can be a model to your community.
Replace fleet vehicles and buses that run on fossil fuels with vehicles that run on electricity
Electric fleet vehicles, especially buses, have a range of benefits that make them an excellent investment for local government use. Cities are coming together to spur innovation amongst manufacturers and use their collective purchasing power to drive down cost.
Increase energy efficiency of local government operations, such as buildings, street lighting, and water or wastewater plants
Energy efficiency is the best way to save taxpayer money and cut climate pollution right now. The average building wastes about a third of the energy it uses. Consider implementing a strategic energy management plan for all major operations.
Increase rates of walking, cycling and public transit through means accessible to all residents
In many communities, the transportation sector is the largest share of their pollution and getting people to use alternative modes of transit to the personal vehicle comes with a myriad of benefits, not only cutting greenhouse gases.
Adopt policies to reduce carbon footprint of new and/or existing buildings
Building electricity, heating, and cooling at the community-scale is, with transportation, the other major source of carbon emissions. Strategies will vary between single-family homes, multi-family residential housing, and commercial buildings. Conducting energy audits and using benchmarking is an excellent tool to drive efficiency. Incentive programs for energy upgrades can be done effectively the more buildings that participate.
Promote practices that reduce the carbon footprint of food procurement and consumption and prevent food waste
Food is often overlooked as a source of greenhouse gas pollution. What it takes to produce, how far is travels to get to consumers and what’s done with food that’s not eaten all lead to major carbon pollution. Producing more food locally, running programs with restaurants and institutions to reduce food waste, and cutting back on carbon intense foods such as meat and poultry are important steps.
Give all residents in my community, especially those underrepresented or of marginalized groups, a voice in setting policy and action plans
Plans, strategies, and their implementation should include the input and priorities of the community. Having your residents’ support and involvement will lead to better long term solutions. Simply holding an open public hearing is not sufficient for the inclusion of all residents. Many methods exist for successful community engagement.
New Climate Actions Arlington, MA Commits To Take:
Adopt policies that accelerate the transition to electric vehicles for commercial fleets and personal vehicles
Electric vehicles for personal and commercial use are, along with automation, a major trend coming to scale quickly. The proper infrastructure to support EVs will be critical to capture their benefits. Consider partnership with the largest local commercial fleet operators to pilot new ideas.
Set a goal for emissions reduction equal to or greater than the US goal under the Paris Climate Agreement (26-28% by 2025)
We all know the best way to measure, and actually achieve success, is to set a goal. Making that goal inline with or stronger than the U.S. nationally determined contribution under Paris signals that local governments are doing their part. Hundreds of cities and counties across the U.S. see an emissions reduction target of this level ambitious but doable.
Use strategies building resilience to threats of climate change in zoning, capital improvement, comprehensive planning, and hazard mitigation documents
One of the most important things local governments can do when it comes to addressing climate change is to prepare for its effects--severe storms, drought, flooding, heat waves and more. Local government is already pledged to provide for the health and safety of their residents from these hazards. Climate change will make them worse and understanding and accounting for what’s to come in existing official documents is part of that responsibility.
Areas For Collaboration
We are interested in collaborating on the following:
- Aggregating demand for renewable energy with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state renewable energy policies