November 13, 2017
Christopher Riddle, [email protected]
Media Advisory: Monday Action Celebrating Amherst, MA Vote to Bar Fossil Fuel Use In New Municipal Buildings
What: Area Zero Energy Building Campaign Action to thank Town Meeting members and enlist help for long haul support of Zero Energy Buildings after successful vote on Nov. 8.
Where: Amherst, MA Middle School, 170 Chestnut St., Amherst, MA
When: Monday, November 13, 2017, 6:30 PM - 7:00 PM, prior to Town Meeting.
Press Release: Amherst, MA First Town in the Nation to Mandate Zero Energy Town Buildings
Western MA Town Aspires to Be Renewable Capital of East Coast
On November 8, Amherst Town Meeting voted 123 to 54 to become the first municipality in the nation to mandate that all new municipal buildings and additions costing over one million dollars be “Zero Energy.” Zero Energy, or Net Zero, buildings produce as much energy as they use over the course of a year. Zero Energy buildings are highly energy efficient with renewable power generation. .
The Zero Energy Town Buildings Bylaw was submitted to Town Meeting by an ad hoc group of Mothers Out Front Amherst and Climate Action Now, Western MA. The bylaw will affect two currently planned new buildings, a Fire Station and a Department of Public Works facility, as well as all future new construction costing over $1 Million. The petitioners provided a letter signed by twenty-four local architects and building professionals asserting the feasibility and affordability of achieving Zero Energy for all the buildings planned by the Town.
A vote on a motion made by the Select Board to refer the article back to itself for further study was not successful.
Such a local mandate is believed to be the first in Massachusetts and the nation.
Lee Jennings, local landscape architect and a Mothers Out Front leader, explained the background for the bylaw at Town Meeting. “First and foremost, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to counter the impacts of climate change. We were confident that Amherst residents understand the gravity of the situation but we didn’t know if Town Meeting would share our sense of urgency. It turned out that many members had their children and grandchildren in mind as they discussed and voted on the bylaw.”
“Zero energy buildings are cost effective,” said Christopher Riddle, a retired architect. “Most of the debt service for any additional borrowing is balanced by the value of the energy saved each year and by the value of the energy generated each year by renewables. A project that gives a return on your upfront costs is called an investment.”
“We need a plan for moving toward 100% Renewable Energy, starting with changes that the public can control, like eliminating the use of fossil fuels in municipal buildings” said Andra Rose of Mothers Out Front. “Retrofitting existing buildings is expensive but will also be necessary. The first and easiest step is to build new municipal buildings to Zero Energy standards. We hope to work closely with the Select Board in providing access to national experts and researching alternative funding for the additional costs of the buildings.”
Town Meeting also unanimously passed a resolution to commit Amherst to 100% Renewable Energy and to consider a comprehensive model to localize energy resources called Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, which would rapidly accelerate Amherst’s transition to renewable energy.
In addition, the newly-elected State Representative of Amherst, Pelham and part of Granby, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, has filed legislation, H.3472, that would bring battery storage research, development and manufacturing to the Pioneer Valley.
Advocates believe that together, these greenhouse gas reducing initiatives will put Amherst and surrounding communities on the forefront of the renewable energy revolution on the East Coast.
Mothers Out Front, Pioneer Valley is a local team of dedicated volunteers - part of the national organization of Mothers Out Front - who are moving their communities and state from dirty to clean energy, for the benefit of future generations.
CAN is a grassroots Western Mass organization dedicated to building a powerful climate justice movement and a founding member of the Mass Power Forward Coalition. We work in our communities and in collaboration with diverse partners across the region to educate, advocate, and mobilize for climate action.
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