The Pioneer Valley towns of Wendell and Whately were recently designated Green Communties under the Green Communities Act, joining numerous other towns in the region. This brings the total number of cities and towns in the commonwealth that have achieved the designation to 110.
As Green Communities, Wendell and Whately are eligible for grant funding in the amount of $138,125 and $137, 950, respectively. Other towns earning the designation along with Wendell and Whately are Petersham, Rockland, Westminster, Westwood, and Winthrop.
Other towns that have already been designated Green Communities in the Pioneer Valley are: Amherst, Ashfield , Belchertown, Conway, Deerfield, Easthampton, Gill, Granby, Greenfield, Hatfield, Holyoke, Leverett, Monson, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Palmer, Pelham, Shutesbury, Springfield, and Sunderland.
“I congratulate these communities on joining the over 100 Green Communities across the Commonwealth as they make smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Community by community, we are protecting our environment, reducing municipal costs and making Massachusetts a clean energy leader.”
According to the commonwealth, the reduced energy production that Green Communities have committed to equals the energy us of 13,600 homes or 31,000 cars.
The requirements to become a Green Community are:
- Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows “as-of-right siting” – allowing a project to proceed without requiring a special permit or any type of discretionary approval – for renewable and/or alternative energy research and development facilities, manufacturing facilities or generation units;
- Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
- Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program to reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
- Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
- Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e. adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”)
If you are planning on buying or selling a home in the Pioneer Valley, make your first call to Michael Seward at 413-531-7129.