BURLINGTON - The community took another step in continuing the process of seeing Burlington transform into a green community.
Last February, the Board of Selectmen supported an initiative to start the process of Burlington joining the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program.
The Green Communities Designation and Grant Program, an initiative of the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, provides funding to qualified municipalities for energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives once designated as a Green Community.
The two policies supported by the Selectmen call for the community to adhere to an anti-idling policy and fuel-efficient vehicle policy. The policies only impact the town’s municipal fleet of vehicles (inspector, Town Hall, and custodial vehicle, among others), while the Department of Public Works and public safety vehicles are exempt.
At its most recent meeting, the School Committee unanimously voted to adopt its own policy to help lessen its carbon footprint in town. The only policy they had to support was the fuel-efficient vehicle initiative, which is strictly for newly purchased vehicles by the School Department. School buses are excluded from the policy.
Bob Cunha, director of technology and operations for the School Department, mentioned the department’s current fleet meets policy guidelines.
“This is about miles per gallon,” stated Cunha. “The policy set forth does not require use to purchase electric vehicles. The objective is to utilize the most fuel-efficient vehicles.”
Cunha provided an example where the policy applies. Instead of buying a vehicle with a V8 engine, the policy requires the purchase of a 6-cylinder engine because the latter is more fuel-efficient.
As for the anti-idling policy, the School Department has had such restrictions in place for several years which meet the same requirements imposed by the state’s anti-idling policy. This resulted in no action needed by the School Committee because the department’s existing anti-idling policy suffices.
The School Committee had no problem supporting the fuel-efficient vehicles policy.
“I support this,” declared School Committee Chair Martha Simon. “I also feel it is pretty minimal, as we already meet these requirements with our existing fleet of vehicles. Yet, this allows us to be eligible for grants at the state level and it is certainly a good thing we are taking measures to lower our carbon footprint. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
The committee unanimously approved the fuel-efficient vehicles policy.
Going green in Massachusetts
The pledge of the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program is to cut municipal energy use by 20 percent over the next five years in Massachusetts.
When Burlington is ultimately accepted into the program, the town will receive an initial $170,000 grant from the state, upon acceptance. From that point on, the town would be eligible for competitive grants of up to $250,000 each year.
This program is clearly something Burlington officials want the town to be a part of.
“We discussed it with our facilities people, and there is no shortage of energy efficient projects that we already have on our Capital Plan, which these grants could be used for in funding and taking the burden off the taxpayers,” avowed Town Administrator Paul Sagarino.
Sagarino explained the Department of Public Works is already using a software package similar to the one utilized for the green program, so the town basically has the infrastructure to manage the task. The state will provide assistance, as well.