Why It Pays To Become A Green Community

By Todd Gutner, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Going green without going broke.  That’s what more and more Massachusetts cities and towns are doing by becoming “Green Communities.”  One of the best parts is that a Green Community can get state money for conservation projects that in turn save the town money.  It’s all part of the Green Communities Act that was passed in 2008, but it wasn’t until last year that towns qualified.  Kingston was one of the first. 

The small coastal community, about 35 miles from Boston didn’t waste any time winning a state grant available only to towns that do the work of becoming a green community. 

“We got a grant of $165,000,” says Mark Beaton, a Kingston Selectman.  He says the town used that money for energy retrofits at an elementary school, the Smith Lane Fire Station, and the town library, installing lighting sensors, new, efficient boilers, and computer systems to control heating and cooling.  Power isn’t the only thing they’re cutting.  

“We’ll be saving $102,000 a year on utility bills.  So it pays to bite the bullet and become a Green Community.  There’s a lot of upside,” says Beaton.

WBZ-TV’s Todd Gutner reports

It also takes a lot of work and cooperation.  Zoning rules to encourage renewable energy have to be in place, and so do building codes to increase energy efficiency.  A blueprint to cut power use in municipal buildings must be developed, and a plan to use fuel efficient vehicles must be adopted.

There are 53 Green Communities in the state.  So far about $12-million in grants have been distributed with another $4-million in the pipeline.  Kingston is leveraging its’ status as a Green Community to lease the town’s capped landfill to developers who plan to build a solar farm and wind turbine.  Another developer wants to put additional turbines on private land. 

“The end result is, we’re going to create a lot of clean, renewable energy and there’ll be a positive cash flow to the town to the tune of almost a million dollars a year,” says Beaton.  “It’s a huge deal,” adds Kingston Town Administrator Jill Goldsmith.  “We’re all trying to do what we can for the environment, but we’re also trying to be fiscally conservative and responsible,” she says. 

Kingston hopes to have the solar and wind power facilities online by January.

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