Building Literacy: Public Library Construction

Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder

August 13, 2021 Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Construction Team Season 5 Episode 2
Building Literacy: Public Library Construction
Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder
Show Notes Transcript

In our last episode we learned about the broad goals of the Commonwealth’s Climate Act and Executive Order 594’s implications for the State’s portfolio of buildings. In this episode, we dig a little deeper into what resources, incentives, and grants are available to the Commonwealth’s municipalities, and, in turn, libraries, to better position our local governments in meeting our ambitious energy goals outlined in the aforementioned legislation. We are fortunate to have wonderful State colleagues working toward these efforts. We are joined by Joanne Bissetta, the Acting Director of the Green Communities Division, and Catie Snyder, the Deputy Director of the Leading by Example Program, both of whom are affiliated with the Department of Energy Resources.

List of resources: 

Green Communities web site – will link to current and past grant opportunities for reference: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/green-communities-division

Decarbonization Roadmap https://www.mass.gov/info-details/ma-decarbonization-roadmap

Net -Zero new construction webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNBNm-AGI9c

MAPC Net Zero info: https://www.mapc.org/net-zero/what-is-net-zero/

MassSave website https://www.masssave.com/en/saving/business-rebates

MAFMA training and tutorials - https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mafma-training-and-tutorials

MassCEC preferred installer lists: 

Air-source heat pumps (https://goclean.masscec.com/installers/)

Ground-source heat pumps (https://www.masscec.com/ground-source-heat-pump-installers)

Solar hot water (https://www.masscec.com/solar-hot-water-installers)

Automated wood heating (https://www.masscec.com/automated-wood-heating-installers)

EJ Communities in Massachusetts - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/environmental-justice-populations-in-massachusetts

PowerOptions program for public entity solar PPAs- https://poweroptions.org/programs/solar/

MassEVIP incentives for public, workplace, and other electric vehicle charging - https://www.mass.gov/doc/matrix-of-massevip-grant-programs/download

Utility make ready programs for electric vehicle charging (Eversource and National Grid) - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/electric-vehicle-charging

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

libraries, municipalities, building, energy, charging, costs, communities, solar, parking lot, incentives, construction, called, grants, state, buildings, community, projects, site, facilities, charging station

Andrea Bunker  00:00

Welcome to Building Literacy: Public Library Construction, a podcast for librarians, trustees, and local officials who are exploring or undertaking a renovation, expansion, or new construction project for their library. My name is Andrea Bunker.

Lauren Stara  00:15

And my name is Lauren Stara. And we are the library building specialists who administer the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, a multi-million dollar grant program run by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which is the state agency for libraries. 

Andrea Bunker  00:33

While this podcast is Massachusetts-focused, stakeholders in library building projects everywhere may find helpful information within these episodes. From fundraising and advocacy campaigns, to sustainability and resilience, to the planning, design and construction process, there is something for everyone. If there is a public library building project topic we have not covered but that is of interest to you, please email me at [email protected]

Lauren Stara  01:00

Or me at [email protected] 

Andrea Bunker  01:04

In our last episode, we learned about the broad goals of the Commonwealth's Climate Act and Executive Order 594's implications for the state's portfolio of buildings. In this episode, we dig a little deeper into what resources, incentives, and grants are available to the Commonwealth's municipalities and, in turn, libraries to better position our local governments in meeting our ambitious energy goals outlined in the aforementioned legislation. We are fortunate to have wonderful state colleagues working toward these efforts. We are joined by Joanne Bissetta, the Acting Director of the Green Communities Division and Catie Snyder, the Deputy Director of the Leading by Example Program, both of whom are affiliated with the Department of Energy Resources. Welcome to you both, and thank you for talking with us today!

Catie Snyder  01:47

Thanks for having us. 

Joanne Bissetta  01:48

Thank you. 

Andrea Bunker  01:49

Thank you for being here. So we're wondering if we can start off by you telling us a little bit about yourselves and your roles at your agency/divisions. 

Joanne Bissetta  01:59

Good morning, and thank you for having us. My name is Joanne Bissetta. I'm the Acting Director of the Green Communities division at the Department of Energy Resources. What we do at the Green Communities Division is we essentially act as the hub of any energy related topics for the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts. We run a grant program and have tools and resources on our website, which I'll talk a little bit more in depth as we go along. But essentially, if any community has questions or issues that are energy related, they can contact us. We have four regional coordinators throughout the state that serve the western part of the state, that's Mark Rabinski. Kelly Brown serves central region. Neil Duffy serves the Boston area in northeast region. And Lisa Sullivan serves the southeast region and the Cape and the islands. So they're sort of the points of contact for municipalities. So if they don't know the answer, they can then forward the question or issue to folks in the Boston office, and we have a lot of really smart people doing amazing things and we can then direct the answer to those people. 

Catie Snyder  03:12

Hi, everybody, good morning. Glad to be here. My name is Catie Snyder. I'm the Deputy Director, as Andrea said, of the Leading by Example Program, which is housed within the Department of Energy Resources. And as the name would suggest, sort of leading by example, using the opportunity we have with the state government portfolio to illustrate innovative and forward thinking, decarbonization, and energy efficiency practices and efforts. We at our program work collaboratively with state agencies, so the entire executive branch, quasi public authorities, as well as public colleges and universities to advance clean energy and sustainable practices to reduce the environmental impacts of those state government operations. Our program provides technical assistance. We help connect state partners to grant funding to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase the renewable and clean energy resources that are available, improve energy efficiency, advance clean transportation, and bolster other sustainability initiatives such as pollinator habitat, battery powered landscaping equipment, and so really a fun program that really spans a wide range of different environmental and energy related practices and sort of tracking government progress towards certain targets that were set through our executive order. We have a new executive order, which you may have heard my colleague, Eric Friedman, talk about in a recent podcast that sets really aggressive new targets for us in terms of reducing emissions, but also increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations and reducing the current use of heating oil at state sites. 

Andrea Bunker  04:43

Thank you both for those introductions and for telling us about your agencies and divisions. Today we're aiming to get down into the more local arena and talk about some of the programs and incentives that are available and I'm wondering if we can start off just talking a little bit about the Green Ccommunities Act, how it established the Green Communities Division, and how to become a green community. 

Joanne Bissetta  05:09

Sure, thank you. So the Green Communities Act was signed into law in 2008, and it is a pretty wide encompassing piece of legislation that established many programs, including the Mass Saves program, and a lot of other components. And it also established the green communities designation and grant program, which our division works to implement. The act stipulates how to become a green community, and there are five criteria. Two are related to zoning and permitting for clean energy facilities. So a community needs to be able to have what's called as of right siting. So this is a project that would be allowed by zoning without any special permits or variances for a clean energy facility. And these could be anything from a large ground mounted solar facility, or it could be a wind turbine, or other renewable or alternative energy facilities that generate energy. Communities can become designated through this process by also having a manufacturing facility. So if it's a facility that can manufacture clean energy components, or research and development. Those are the three ways they can meet that criteria. And then with the permitting piece, a permit needs to be approved by the municipality within one year of it being filed. And typically, the municipal practices, it's very easily to meet that requirement, because most site plan review and other approval processes take way less than one year. So that's usually not an issue. So that's criteria one and two- zoning and permitting. Criteria three, I call this the term paper of becoming a green community. This is where municipalities need to establish an energy use baseline and then come up with a plan to reduce that energy by 20% in five years, so that's why it's a term paper. You don't wait till the last minute to do this. It takes a little bit of research and effort to do this, but we provide tools and resources to help communities accomplish this. So when I say energy footprint or energy baseline, this is essentially the energy required to run the city or town. So this would be heating and lighting for buildings. It would be streetlights and traffic lights. Also, including school facilities if the public school is part of the municipal government. And any water and wastewater treatment facilities that are owned by the community, as well as libraries. Most communities include public libraries. So in order to help the communities establish this baseline, we have a free online energy tracking tool called Mass Energy Insight that we provide free to cities and towns, school districts, etc. that automatically downloads electric and gas utility usage into town accounts. That means that cities and towns don't need to sit down with a bunch of electric and gas bills and do a lot of data entry to establish their energy consumption. We can provide that information for them. We provide training to use this tool. So once they get their energy data put together, they know what their baseline is. Now, they have to figure out how to reduce it by 20% in five years, again, by utilizing the free Mass Save audits. These are for communities that are in what we call investor-owned utility territories, so if they're served by National Grid, Eversource, Unitil, or the Cape Light Compact, they should have access to free audits. And these are fairly high level audits, but, essentially, they get a sense of, you know, what the opportunities are in these facilities and based on that information, communities can then come up with an energy reduction plan. So as you can see, that's why I call it the term paper, it takes a little bit of time to do all that. 

Andrea Bunker  09:11

So those who are in communities that have municipal light plants, are they eligible for that audit as well?

Joanne Bissetta  09:18

Municipal light communities are a little bit of a different territory. If they have some utilities, investor owned utilities providing natural gas service, sometimes they will provide audits focusing on gas measures, and then might indicate that there are some lighting or electrical initiatives as well. A lot of municipal light departments will provide some sort of audits. Municipal government is sort of called commercial and institutional programs, so they might have some sort of program for their municipal footprint. That service is a separate category. Sometimes those municipalities would have to pay for audits if they don't have natural gas service. And we provide assistance for that as well. When we talk about grants incentives later on to talk about that. So we talked about criteria three. Criteria four is having a fuel efficient vehicle policy. As you can imagine, some cities and towns have a fairly extensive fleets, and we want to make them as efficient as possible. So the community has to adopt a policy that will set standards on future acquisitions of vehicles and establishes guidelines for that in terms of miles per gallon. And then the last criteria is for communities to adopt something called the stretch energy code. And this addresses new construction. So what it establishes is, new buildings that are built will be more energy efficient than what the base energy code or the base building code requires. So once you do all that you could become a green community. And that's all set out in the statute. And on our website, there are guidelines and details on how to meet all those criteria. And once you become a green community, you're eligible for a designation grant,

Andrea Bunker  11:06

How many green communities are there in Massachusetts currently, or a ballpark figure?

Joanne Bissetta  11:12

There are 280 green communities. And they range from teeny tiny towns- I think the town of Rowe is the smallest one or might be Peru with fewer than 1000- and running all the way up to the city of Boston.

Andrea Bunker  11:26

That's amazing. Was there anything else you wanted to share about the Green Communities Act or how to become a green community?

Joanne Bissetta  11:32

I could talk a little bit about the designation grants.

Andrea Bunker  11:36

That would be great.

Joanne Bissetta  11:37

The carrot at the end of this journey is becoming eligible for green community designation grants. And these are formula grants this base grant of $125,000, and then there's a variable based on a community's population and median income. So this helps provide some cash infusion to start the community to implement their energy reduction plan. So that's one of the beauties of having that plan and some of those audits is once they become designated, and they have access to the grant dollars, they have sort of a work plan or a blueprint on how to spend those monies. So they can apply for funding for projects, such as upgrading lighting to LEDs, new heating systems, streetlight retrofits, it kind of runs the gamut of where the community needs the funds most. And then once they spend out those grants, and finalize, and submit final reports, they're then eligible for competitive grants. Over, gosh, 11 years, we've been funding this program, I think we've awarded over $140 million. I'll have to double check that. But we've had some communities that have come in almost every year for competitive grants and have received over a million dollars since the beginning of the program. So it can have quite a big impact on upgrading their facilities and reducing their energy consumption and energy costs.

Andrea Bunker  13:05

And I know that we have had libraries involved in those grants as well. Did the municipalities apply? Or do the libraries apply directly?

Joanne Bissetta  13:15

Oh, that's a great question. So we have grant contracts with the municipalities. Hopefully, the library personnel have been somewhat involved with the drafting of the energy reduction plan, or at least consulted. The libraries hopefully have been audited. So they've been involved with that process. So if a library is looking to upgrade a heating system, or perhaps convert from an oil heating system to a heat pump system, which is fossil fuel free, or greatly reducing fossil fuels, they should contact either the town administrator or whoever, you know, they work with for capital projects, because that can often be something that we can support with our grant funding.

Andrea Bunker  13:59

That's great for libraries to know because a lot of libraries are structured differently, so they may have a separate board that is a nonprofit or actually physically owns the building. But the municipality is responsible for paying for the operations and staff. So they're all different configurations. So it's good for them to know where to go. Catie, you are going to talk a little bit about that third party solar power purchase agreement that is in place.

Catie Snyder  14:29

Sure. happy to. So solar power purchase agreements, or PPAs, as there more commonly known is a mechanism that enables private developers to install and maintain solar on publicly owned roofs and parking lots in sort of the context I'm talking about. There are PPAs that exist, you know, private corporation, but we'll kind of keep it to public entities specifically. These agreements can be really cost effective because they don't require upfront capital from the host site, and you can garner energy savings over the course of that agreement, which has made it an attractive option for many public facilities that do have limited capital and or operating budgets. So what the developer essentially does is sell the electricity back to the host site for a rate that is typically less than their current utility rate. That's sort of what makes the PPA agreement work in most cases. And the terms of those agreements typically run 20 to 25 years. More and more, we're seeing those with a fixed price for power, so that could be a potential benefit, kind of not having to deal with the dynamic pricing for at least a portion of your electricity load. Sometimes they will include a small annual price escalator, but, generally, they kind of provide an overview of what they expect the cost to look like over that term to help the site understand what they would be signing on to. These solar installations can also include battery storage, so that may provide additional financial benefits to the site through reduced demand charges. In some cases, that may be an opportunity to bolster the resilience of the site as well. So due to certain laws in Massachusetts, there is an opportunity for public entities to enter into this type of agreement directly with energy providers that have been awarded a contract by Power Options. Some towns may be members of Power Options. They're a nonprofit energy consortium, and they, in this case, develop a contract on behalf of public and other nonprofit entities to move forward with solar PPAs. They have a single solar developer right now. I think that process goes up for bidding periodically, but they've completed over 70 projects so far with schools, towns, libraries, and a number of state facilities as well. Because Power Options goes through the competitive bidding process, and they have pretty rigorous criteria and thresholds that, you know, they sort of acquire through that, it eliminates the need for public entities to go through that process in house. So that saves time and money and complexity, because sometimes going through that process can be a bit much, especially if you're not used to working with solar. And in addition, the solar developer will assess the solar feasibility of the site and provide the estimated system size, the electricity rate they believe they can offer to the site, and/or any other public off-takers. So if for example, they estimate they could put in a fairly large system, but that site doesn't actually need all that electricity, they have the option to sort of segment some of that electricity to another public off-taker. And those rates are always inclusive of any applicable incentives. So for example, the smart program, which is a really great opportunity for solar projects to generate additional revenue, that essentially gets passed through to the host site in the form of a lower PPA rate. So they do all of this analysis at no cost to the host site. So it's a really great way to kind of understand what the possibilities are for that site as well without having to necessarily go out and pay for a solar feasibility study. And I would say that projects located in investor owned utility service territories are typically more economically feasible because of their ability to participate in that Smart Program. But we are seeing more PPA projects being coordinated with municipal light plants. So in order to undergo any sort of initial analysis under this program with power options, it does require being a power options member, which I think is a relatively straightforward process. And as I mentioned, a number of towns may already be Power Options members. So definitely something to check out, as I said, a number of public entities have taken advantage of because it gives the opportunity to move into a solar foray a without having to deal with the upfront and ongoing costs of maintaining that solar, so it can be a really great option to pursue.

Andrea Bunker  18:44

Are you seeing a lot of installations on roofs, or are you seeing more in terms of solar farms or in parking lots and as solar shelters, I guess? I forget what they're called exactly, but...

Catie Snyder  18:58

Yeah. So I would say, you know, predominantly more rooftops and parking lot canopies. I think generally, we see less interest in ground mounted solar, just because that may cause some contention with using available open space. And I think generally we promote a lot of canopies and rooftops for state facilities, because we think that's really the most economical and environmentally friendly way to go. But there are a number of factors that come into play, and this is why those site assessments can be really helpful, because to do rooftop solar, there needs to be a roof that is not extremely old, or perhaps you're thinking of redoing the roof sometime in the next couple of years. That can be a great time to sort of integrate the solar simultaneously. The orientation of the roof matters. How much sunlight is it getting? Are there a lot of trees causing shade? Is there a lot of equipment up on the roof? So there's a number of factors that kind of determine the feasibility of rooftop solar but it's generally the most economical. It's fairly inexpensive to mount, there's not a lot of steel required. There's not trenching, anything that has to sort of go into the ground. So particularly in the eastern part of the state right now, those rooftop solar installations through PPAs, are actually looking very financially attractive, because the Smart Program is less subscribed in the eastern part of the state. And it's also great for bigger cities and towns that maybe don't have a lot of open parking lots if there is a rooftop that is attractive for solar, that can be a really great option. Parking lot canopies do take a little bit more finessing, I would say, because there is typically some level of trenching involved. So that means they are digging into your parking lot, it causes some disruption construction-wise, and sometimes a little more coordination with the utility to understand where that power is getting connected. But at the same time, again, if it's a parking lot, that is expected to be sort of torn up and redone at a certain point, it's also the perfect opportunity to consider electric vehicle charging, because if you are running the conduit for a solar canopy, at the same time, you can run some conduit for electric vehicle charging stations. And if you're not quite ready to put a bunch of charging stations in, you can at least pre-wire at certain parking lot spots, so that in the future, it's relatively easy and inexpensive to install charging stations. There's a lot to consider, and it really is a site by site basis, but I think the folks at Power Options sort of serve a great intermediary role in helping navigate the process, kind of helping coordinate with that developer. And, you know, sort of my role in the LBE (Leading by Example) program is to help state facilities kind of get through that process as well. But I think one thing we've seen has been really powerful is having that peer to peer learning opportunity. So we've connected certain towns, for example, with some of our state partners just so they get to talking and kind of understand as the host site, what is this like, because those of us that are helping with the process, you know aren't necessarily installing a solar on our own properties. But I think that that can be a really powerful testament as well, kind of hearing the experience and how, in most cases, it has been extremely positive and understanding kind of what to expect. As I said, there have been so many installations at this point that we definitely have a lot of folks we can connect with. If there are towns or libraries that are interested in learning more about this model for kind of taking the plunge, then we can make those connections.

Andrea Bunker  22:28

And I know that both of you have mentioned electrification of vehicles and making greener fleets and electric vehicle charging stations. And I'm wondering if we can talk a little bit more about that and the incentives there as well. Parking is a very big concern for our libraries. Because if you don't have parking, you probably won't have as many patrons coming into the building, because it's all about convenience and access, so if we could talk a little bit about that. And then with these grants and incentives, you know, they may be offsetting upfront costs, but what are some of the longer term costs that libraries and municipalities need to contemplate for future planning?

Catie Snyder  23:09

Great question. So I think you know, at the state policy level, EV charging stations are envisioned as playing an important role as more electric vehicles hit the road and Massachusetts. And public sites, in particular I think, will play an important role for helping expand that network of critical charging infrastructure. So right now, there's actually a lot of funding for both equipment and installation, partially through the mass Department of Environmental Protection, as well as Eversource and National Grid, they kind of covered different portions of the process, which I'll get into in a minute. But they would want me to note that the combined incentives from both programs cannot exceed 100% of the total costs. So so you can combine them, but it is important to recognize that they do have to sort of be balanced with each other. So the Mass DEP program is called Mass EVIP, which stands for electric vehicle incentive program. They have charging station incentive grants that vary based on the use case for the charging, so that could be fleet and workplace. So if you have your own vehicles or you'd like to provide employee charging, there is educational campus and multi-unit dwelling charging, as well as public access charging and DC fast charging. So the incentives all kind of vary depending on the expected use case of the charging stations. The grants cover all types of EVcharging, that's level one, which is kind of your basic outlet; level two, which is essentially upgraded outlet; and DC fast charging, which is sort of what you might see along highway corridors. It's a very quick but expensive and somewhat daunting technology, I think, for a lot of smaller sites. The way that their incentive structure works is that Mass DEP will cover up to 60 to 100%. Again, depending on the use case, I'll kind of use public access charging as the example because I think that might be the most applicable, so, in the case of public access charging, they will cover up to 100% of equipment costs. They may cover some of the installation costs, which means the trenching the electrical work, if the applicant isn't receiving other cost coverage, so that would be municipal light plants, for example, because they're not eligible for funding through Eversource or Grid. I think Mass DEP sort of wanted to help fill that gap, so they are willing to cover both equipment and installation in those cases. The utility programs, on the other hand, focus more on the electrical infrastructure costs. So that could be as I said, the trenching, the electrical work, what it might take to run service to the location that the charging stations are being installed. So as the name would suggest, kind of making the site ready for the EV charging stations, so when you sort of bundle those two together, even if you're not getting 100% of the cost covered through Mass EVIP, you are able to get some additional funding from the utility. So we definitely encourage folks to take advantage of these programs while the incentives are still so robust, and as I said, can cover up to 100% of the costs. I did also want to note that in environmental justice communities, there's actually added incentives through utilities, and that recently, the environmental justice map has changed. So if you haven't looked into that recently, I think it's worth revisiting, because based on recent census data, some of the environmental justice communities sort of their official information has changed a little bit. And some communities that weren't EJ in the past now are. Just wanted to flag that, you know, beyond even this program, there are a number of other programs such as More EV, which provides vehicle incentive funding that are offering additional adders or benefits to sites and vehicles that would be located in EJ communities.

Andrea Bunker  26:44

Could you explain what an environmental justice community is?

Catie Snyder  26:48

There are multiple criteria. There are scales of EJ communities. Some are not EJ at all. Some meet like one criteria. Some meet all three. So let me just pull it up quickly.

Andrea Bunker  27:00

Thank you, sorry.

Catie Snyder  27:01

Yeah, no, no, it's totally fine.

Lauren Stara  27:02

At some point, I would like to talk about parking lot configuration, because my understanding is that you can't just convert a regular parking space to a charging station space, there's extra space required. I'm very concerned about that for our public library parking lots, because they are so constricted. Our goal is to provide as much parking as we can. And if a charging station configuration is going to reduce the number of spaces we can provide, we need to plan for that.

Joanne Bissetta  27:39

I don't think that's the case. The charging station is usually established within an existing, I'm thinking about my town hall in my library as an example. They didn't change the parking configuration at all and just installed the charging station.

Andrea Bunker  27:55

And I think we're getting this information from our libraries that are installing them. They're saying that they're larger, so I don't know if that is also a local zoning issue where they're saying you have to have this for their municipal zoning. It's interesting, because, I mean, I have a charging station at my home, and it really doesn't take up any more space. But.

Joanne Bissetta  28:16

Right, I'm wondering if it's, yeah, for new parking lots or newly configured parking lots and may trigger something with zoning that it needs to be, you know, also handicap accessible or. You know, I'm not privy to all that. But if you're just putting in a charging station in an existing parking lot, you don't need to do anything special.

Lauren Stara  28:37

Well, we're going to have to look into that a little further, because that's not what we've heard in the past from other sources. So,

Joanne Bissetta  28:45

if you guys can send me some information on that, it would be interesting for us, you know, as our Green Communities Division, knowing what the municipalities and libraries are facing, so we can properly advise them on this.  And I think you did hit something on the head there, too, Joanne, because we did have one of these conversations with a gentleman from the office on disability and talking about that. So it might be that there's a handicapped requirement if you have so few charging stations in your parking lot, that they also have to be handicapped accessible, so that it's accessible to all. So we will certainly look into that a little bit further, and let you know what we find.

Catie Snyder  29:24

We, at the State, have also been thinking about public access charging and talking with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance. They have a great Accessibility Initiative team. And they're currently working on some guidance for parking lot configuration with EV charging stations as well as making those spaces accessible. And there are a number of ways that that can be approached and sort of laid out, and they're going to use a lot of diagrams and reference ADA requirements, which I think will be a really helpful resource. I'll also add that the Mass EVIP charging station incentive for public access actually does have an ADA requirements section. So they talk about sort of what the considerations need to be as far as, you know, things like the height of different things and what have you. So I do know that DCAMM referenced that particular set of requirements as being a really great interim resource until they put something out. But I think legally, you only have to have one accessible EV charging station per 25 EV charging stations. So it's the similar number for your typical parking space requirement. But obviously, we want to encourage folks to take that into account and where possible, include accessible stations as well. And I did find the official definition of an environmental justice population. So in Massachusetts, a neighborhood is defined as an environmental justice population, if any of the following are true. The annual median household income is not more than 65% of the statewide annual median household income, minorities comprise 40% or more of the population, 25% or more of households lack English language proficiency, or minorities comprise 25% or more of the population, and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150% of the statewide and median household income. So that was a bit of a mouthful, but there are several communities that meet at least one of those. It is on a neighborhood basis. It's not municipality wide. It's why they use the term community rather than environmental justice town. So it is at the neighborhood level, it's worth checking out that interactive map that will show you sort of if and how many of those criteria a particular area might meet. And Andrea, before I forget, I also wanted to mention, I know we were talking about sort of parking lot disruption, there are some pretty cool new and innovative technologies coming out, and several of them are actually available on Statewide Contract, which I know municipalities are able to leverage. In particular, I'm thinking of a solar powered electric vehicle charging station. This doesn't require any construction. It comes in on a truck. It can actually be moved. So if you decide later on, you want to put it in a different spot or move it to a different parking lot, that's an option. But essentially doesn't require any grid power at all. It just is sort of a self sustaining unit. And you can choose the type of charging station that accompanies it. It can be a pretty simple one, you can get all the bells and whistles, it's really this sort of self standing unit. And it also has the option to include an emergency power backup option. So if there was a grid outage, there is a little box on the back, and you can plug in certain devices or machinery or a generator so that you have this resilience option as well. It's somewhat expensive, but I think a really cool concept. And we're seeing more and more of that kind of technology coming out. So I think that in the future, there's actually going to continue to be new opportunities to fit sort of unique use cases and still continue to expand EV charging infrastructure.

Andrea Bunker  32:58

That might dovetail nicely with when standards come into play and are mandated, too. We talked briefly in a previous conversation that we had about the long term costs associated with some of these particular installations or upgrades. And I wonder if we can touch upon that for our listeners so that they understand, you know, even though they're getting the upfront costs covered, what does it mean in the long term for them and budget planning and resource planning for their libraries and their municipalities.

Catie Snyder  33:29

As far as EV charging stations go, there's a bit of a range. I think it depends somewhat on the type of charging station that gets installed. So level one chargers are typically the least expensive to maintain, because they have the lowest power draw, ao the electricity rates are not going to be as high. But it's also the slowest charge. So I think typically what we're seeing is that for public access charging, folks are installing level two charging, which is a little bit faster, or DC fast charging, again, sort of more along highway corridors and parking rides or gas station type areas. So if you are using a charging station that is available to the public, normally you're going to charge some sort of usage fee. There is some debate about what that usage fee should be, and it's a little bit of a balance, because you don't want to make it so expensive that no one uses it. You also don't necessarily want to do it for free and have people parking in your parking lot just to charge not because they're actually there to visit the site or the library. So I think typically what we're recommending is that folks consider what the electricity rate is in that general area, and potentially increasing that by5% or 10% just to help cover some of the ongoing costs. So that way the station is essentially paying for its own electricity costs, because that's what the user is paying into, plus a little bit of extra to help offset some of the operation and maintenance costs. There's also going to be a networking fee associated with public chargers, because in order for people to be able to find it on an app and use their credit card to pay, they will have to sort of pay for that ongoing cost. I think, generally, on average, we're seeing that those networking costs are about $500 a year. The operation and maintenance costs are a little trickier to estimate just because it depends on how people treat your charging stations. If people are throwing it around, and it's, you know, getting hit by a snowplow in the winter, because the truck driver forgot that it was there, those costs will vary. I think it's safe to say maybe $1500 a year is sort of a reasonable amount to expect for any maintenance. And that would cover, for example, replacing the charging head or the plug. Roughly one might expect to spend about $2,000 a year maintaining a dual plug station. So that's a single station with two EV charging plugs associated with it. But again, those costs are going to vary a little bit depending on the specific model you go with, because that will impact the networking charge, as well as, as I said, how well your charger fares due to weather and users over the year. But I think, you know, we often think that no charger at all is a better option to a broken charger. So once the site has committed to having an EV charging station, it's really important to keep that up and keep it available for folks. And again, it's sort of a public service to some degree to offer that to your site visitors. But I think as more and more people start driving EVs, it's going to be more and more in demand. So definitely something to consider.

Andrea Bunker  36:39

Do you foresee parking lots eventually being all EV charging stations?

Catie Snyder  36:43

I mean, I think as new energy codes come into effect, new construction, especially, is going to see an increasing percentage of spaces that need to be EV ready or have EV charging stations. But I do think that you know as the statewide policies and mandates shift, and all vehicles sold have to be, you know, at least zero emission vehicles, which includes plug in hybrids, there's definitely going to be an increased need. And so doing anything we can right now to help build up that infrastructure, I think is going to be critical because we don't want to get to a point where suddenly the majority of the population has these vehicles that need to at least charge part of the time, but have a very limited supply of places to do that. I think it's definitely something that we within State government are trying to focus on both for the public, but also for our own fleet vehicles. And I think that, you know, more and more municipalities are kind of understanding that now is the time to start thinking about the charging infrastructure so that we're not stuck on the side of the road as it were in a few years, because we have everybody driving EVs without any place to charge up.

Andrea Bunker  37:46

It'd be like the Blizzard of '78 all over again. 

Catie Snyder  37:49

Exactly.

Andrea Bunker  37:51

And I want to come back to that kind of thread, that topic of, you know, the future of the crafting of these policies and where we think we're going, but. Joanne, I know we talked about earlier as well, you know, looking at lifecycle costs, and perhaps there is more on the reverse side, the flip side from what we've just been talking about. There may be more upfront cost for municipalities to do some of these upgrades to their buildings. But overall, there may be more cost benefit. And I know you had mentioned a couple of case studies of schools, which are kind of akin to libraries in terms of operations, and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that.

Joanne Bissetta  38:33

Sure. So this is not necessarily upgrades of existing facilities, but new construction. There's communities always building new buildings, whether they're police or fire stations, libraries, schools, senior centers, and the best way to address energy use in these buildings is to design and build them to be as energy efficient as possible. One thing that folks may have heard about is called net zero or net zero ready buildings. And these are essentially buildings that have little to no energy use associated with their operations. So it's much easier to build these buildings than to retrofit existing buildings. What we've been seeing in some cases is communities that have goals of reducing their emissions, reducing their energy footprint is to try to build new buildings to be these net zero buildings. And what we found in a recent webinar we held for particularly related to school buildings is that if properly designed, they may not necessarily cost more to build, but the net operating costs over time will be less, because they are not using gas or oil or propane to heat, and they are designed in a way that has a very what they call a tight envelope. So they're very well insulated, they're not leaking. So the heat that is being provided is staying in the building. That's what we've been seeing in the past couple of years is these buildings are being well designed, and their operating costs are not as high. This is also, you know, net zero meaning electrification. So this is using electricity to heat and cool your building. And people will say, well, isn't electricity from fossil fuels? And the answer is yes, right now. But over time, the grid that provides electricity to Massachusetts, is going to get cleaner and cleaner as the offshore wind that's being developed comes online, as well as the hydro projects that are being developed as well. In addition, a lot of these buildings are being constructed with solar on their roofs and solar canopies, which you just heard about from Catie. That's where the net zero comes in. So first, the buildings are designed to be as efficient as possible. And then when you add solar to the equation, the solar will power most, if not all, of the electricity needed to run the heating and cooling and lighting of those buildings. 

Andrea Bunker  41:10

And we have talked about before how it's important to discuss those lifecycle costs when you're bringing up this conversation with stakeholders and those who make decisions in your local government. So that the understanding is that even if you're not saving upfront, long-term, there are savings. And that's not to say there isn't maintenance for these systems, and it may not be an apples to apples comparison, too, right? So if you put in a VRF heat pump system, you're going to have a refrigeration technician maintaining your system and not necessarily your traditional HVAC vendors. So it's a little bit different and hard to compare in some cases. But I don't know if you want to say anything else about how to advocate and talk about these upgrades.

Joanne Bissetta  41:58

Right, municipalities and building committees are always trying to get the best value for the municipality, so that's the whole point of going through the public procurement process. And the best value may not necessarily mean the lowest construction costs. So it would behoove municipalities and building committees to consider future energy costs, as well as the maintenance costs that you mentioned. Some of these new technologies are different. You mentioned a VRF system that, yeah, does require a refrigeration technician. Some of these new schools that I described are being built with geothermal heating and cooling, so that's a different set, so it's a different type of maintenance than what's traditionally being utilized by public buildings. And that's something you would need to consider as well. But overall, you know, if you look at this asset, which will be part of a municipality for the next 50 to 80 years, you want to build it right, and have it to be as cost effective and sustainable as possible. One thing I will note, I know you're interested in us talking about grants and incentives. There's a pretty robust program, again, available through the Mass Save program called new construction, where the minute the community says, "Yes, we want to build a new library", they contact the new construction personnel at National Grid or Eversource. And they will work with your committee, your design team to design the most energy efficient or netzero, if that's one of the goals, buildings as possible. And there's robust incentives all through that process. So it's not something that a municipality or a building committee would go alone, there's a lot of expertise available to help them through the process. And certainly the case studies that were mentioned in our webinar, which by the way, is available on our website. So folks listening in, if you go to the Green Communities website and search for webinars, you can listen in view the new construction for schools webinar, and we have the case studies from two communities on their new school building construction projects, as well as folks from the Mass Save utilities talking about what they can provide to cities and towns. So that's a really good resource to utilize.

Andrea Bunker  44:21

with that also include major renovations and expansions of libraries? Or, because the addition would be new construction, would that be something that those municipalities could also initiate with those companies?

Joanne Bissetta  44:36

Yes, and, you know, if it's substantial renovation and/or an addition, I believe that will trigger the new construction program model, if you will. So yes, that would be available to them.

Catie Snyder  44:48

There are some differences by square footage. So the Mass Save program does kind of look at different size projects differently. And just to sort of build on that, so for State construction, we have an new Mass LEED Plus 2.0 standard as part of that Leading by Example Executive Order. And it includes requirements for new construction and major renovation projects. It has provisions for, you know, only allowing efficient electric or renewable thermal technologies for heating, cooling, and water heating, renewable energy, particularly solar, aggressive energy use intensity targets, and we are developing a guideline right now that kind of talks about the details and implementation of that standard. And it will note that executive branch departments that fund or manage projects not owned by the State or that are not sited on State land, which is sort of the scope of the standard are still encouraged to incorporate that standard into their funding and management processes, because it really is sort of building on the current net zero codes that are out there that are not required right now, and kind of taking that a step further. So I think that that's another sort of great option to consider in the new construction space. And whether you want me to talk about it now or later, Andrea, I do have some thoughts, at least from the State side about existing facilities, because that makes up the majority of our portfolio. So we're primarily dealing with old buildings or old-ish buildings. So whenever you want me to share some thoughts.

Lauren Stara  46:11

I would like to ask a question related to maintenance that we were talking about a moment ago, because one of the things that we run across when we fund a new construction or major addition renovation project in the more rural or remoter parts of the state is they get newer technologies installed into their building, and then they can't find technicians or maintenance people who have the expertise to take care of them. So you know, we can talk about new technologies all we want, but when they're installed, and then they don't work and people can't maintain them or get them fixed, it's a serious problem.

Catie Snyder  46:52

I do know that the Mass Clean Energy Center does have a list of preferred vendors that they maintain that are particularly for heat pumps. For example, I actually used that list, because I was having trouble finding someone to install a heat pump in my home. So that's one resource that I would recommend, and I think that's also a little bit of a shift that's needed both from the sort of the community that does those repairs and maintenance, but also, internally, I think there's a really good opportunity for ensuring that staff are informed on best practices for maintaining the equipment and scheduling those regular checks on the equipment. And that's something that we're doing through the State, but I think it's just going to take a bit of time for folks to get used to some of these technologies. They're not even new technologies, per se, heat pumps up been around for decades, but it's not typically what has been installed in the past. So I think there's still a little bit of a learning curve on the installer side and then, you know, also with sort of the building maintenance side and kind of getting folks more comfortable with those technologies. But I do know that MAFMA, which I forget what that acronym stands for, but through DCAMM, they have a number of trainings that they offer. And I believe those are publicly accessible, and they do sort of topics just like this, like how to maintain your heat pump system. And the other nice thing about some of these new technologies is that they do have remote diagnostics. So when there is something wrong, at least the manufacturer might be able to tell you what the issue is, which in the past was not necessarily something that we had access to. And you know, I think building energy monitoring systems are another great way to sort of keep track of how the system is performing and identify when there is some sort of change in performance, you can see that right away and understand that our system is acting funky right now, let's figure out what's going on, let's get that problem resolved as quickly as possible.

Andrea Bunker  48:40

And I think also the Department of Labor has noted that, especially in the realm of HVAC, there is more workforce development needed. I know that it was one of their priorities in the budget that they presented for fiscal year 20. I don't know how COVID-19 impacted that at all. But it's a shortage statewide, and maybe even nationally, and so maybe not even with just new technologies, but with HVAC in general. So I do know that they have been pretty robust plans for trying to move forward in that area and provide jobs and also fulfill a need, too. And Catie, feel free to jump in with some of those initiatives that the State is considering for existing buildings that are in the state portfolio. 

Catie Snyder  49:30

Yeah. So, I think similar to some of these new technologies in new construction, we're sort of trying to change the dialogue around cost because cost effectiveness has been a sort of linear calculation for so long. But when it comes to decarbonization, and when it comes to climate change, I think we can't think linearly anymore. So we're, you know, trying to start to get the mindset shifted from capital costs are separate from operating costs and sort of have that be a comprehensive view from an accounting perspective, but also thinking about If you're replacing a fossil fuel system with another fossil fuel system, you know, you are going to be constantly paying to operate and maintain that system. And are there opportunities to consider that over the lifetime of that system, you're investing X amount to keep it running versus what's that compared to the upfront cost of a more efficient, cleaner system that maybe is based on renewables, it's going to have fewer points of maintenance. I think electric vehicles are the perfect example of that, because yes, they cost more upfront, but you're not paying for oil changes, you're not paying for gas, you're doing very little maintenance on the vehicle on an annual basis. So I think that's kind of part of what we're trying to do in our program. And ultimately, for existing buildings kind of operating under this do no harm principle. So considering how the decisions made now and in the near term are going to ultimately impact some of the climate goals of the State. And, you know, big part of this is planning, right? We're thinking across multiple timeframes, identifying when equipment is going to be replaced in advance so that we're, you know, preemptively replacing them with more efficient or renewable thermal options, for example. And I know net zero energy and decarbonization can seem like a lot. So maybe taking a step back and trying to approach this sort of brick by brick and actively identifying and then mobilizing any opportunities, whether those are big or small. So I think from the State's perspective, with our facilities, we're trying to help our partners incorporate decarbonization into both their capital and master planning, as well as equipment replacement planning. So some of the actions we've identified that we're encouraging State facilities to take now include ensuring that the best in class energy efficiency measures are prioritized. And, as I said, maybe not, you know, necessarily the most cost effective up front, but in that total cost of ownership, you know, maybe there's some benefits there. And targeting high impact upgrades. So your HVAC system, your envelope, appliances, those are sort of your main energy users, so when possible, focusing time and money there. Participating in demand response programs, which I think a lot of folks that are listening here maybe are already involved in. And implementing operational efficiencies. Again, that real time energy monitoring can help identify ways you might improve that. Maybe it's you know, "oh, look, our lights are turning on automatically every day at 6am. No one's here till 7am. Let's change the scheduling." How can we sort of optimize how our building is being used, and ensuring that staff are informed on those energy saving operational strategies, whether it's the HVAC maintenance that I mentioned, whether it's scheduling, monitoring, equipment performance, and again, sort of planning for end of life replacements of existing fossil fuel equipment is huge. Avoiding replacing things in kind because it's an emergency situation, and thinking about and prioritizing energy performance. I think also incorporating some of this into budget and facility planning, right? It hasn't always been a line item in the budget to decarbonize, but it's imperative. This has to be what is the new way of thinking, and I think it's going to take some time for everyone to migrate to that. But hopefully, given the added incentives that are available right now and some of the technical assistance resources, you know, we can start making those small changes now. And also just investigating and being open to new and innovative technologies. I think libraries and municipalities are akin to State government and that we're very publicly visible, right, and we have that opportunity to lead by example and show the public, "Hey, we have solar on our roof. It is something you can have on your roof. We are installing EV charging, we are using air source heat pumps, and even things like we have this sort of fun side project with pollinator habitat, right? And the best way to create pollinator habitat is to limit your mowing of your grass to a couple times a year. So if you have an area that's just getting mowed for the sake of having a lawn, that is something you can easily turn into a pollinator habitat. It reduces staff time needed for mowing, but again, it provides an opportunity to educate the public and put up a sign and say, you know, "We're not mowing this area and here's why. It's because it is a great habitat for all these natural pollinator species that are native to Massachusetts that are doing all this great work as pollinators helping our crops, helping our environment." So I think that there are some small and easy wins out there that, you know, can be taken now, and it's really also thinking about the big picture and planning accordingly for that.

Joanne Bissetta  54:09

I'd like to add to that. Catie bought up some really great points when she started talking about building management systems and checking to see about lights going on at 6am or heat going on at 3am, things like that. We have a grant that we run every year called Municipal Energy Technical Assistance grants, or META for short. And these are grants to help communities move forward any sort of clean energy project or provide some sort of technical analysis. Some of the things that Catie had mentioned, can be identified through a process called retro-commissioning. And libraries provide a great opportunity to do this. Vendors will come in and if your library has some sort of energy management system or building management system or anything that's controlling the heating and cooling of your building, they'll, you know, dig into the programming of these systems and see when are things turning on, when are things turning off. Are things operating properly? Often, actuators may be stuck on, so you might have a ventilation system that's bringing in cold air through the winter 100% when you don't want any cold air coming in. So they'll identify all those things and come up with a report, you know, these are things that need to be fixed. And often, if it's a simple programming issue, they'll fix it on the spot. And using the school as an example, again, sometimes they don't schedule for school vacations. So they may have the heating on, you know, during winter break when nobody's in the building. Or when the polar vortex from a few years ago happened, sometime the building's operators will adjust the heat to come on earlier or come on a little higher just to keep the pipes from freezing, but then they never switch it back to the regular programming once the polar vortex is over. So retro-commissioning is a great opportunity to identify these low or no cost fixes to optimize energy use and reduce costs. So that's something that is available on our META municipal energy technical assistance grants. These are open to all municipalities, you don't have to be a green community to apply for these. So if a library is interested in having this work done, contact the municipality, because ultimately, they're the ones who are applying, but you know, would certainly pass the costs through to the library. And these are grants that are $15,000. We're currently working on a solicitation, it should be up on COMMBUYS within the next month or so (August 2021). So this will be coming soon.

Andrea Bunker  56:46

That's great to know. And I think we always say to our libraries, make sure you maintain local control over those building management systems. Sometimes the municipality doesn't know "Oh, you're going to have a program on a Sunday at this time, and we've programmed your lights to not go on on Sundays at this time in this room that you're going to be using." Or, you know, they don't think about heating on a day that's a weekend because they don't necessarily work on weekends, the rest of the municipality, but the library does. So that educational piece and knowing how human interaction with that system can change the efficiency and those lifecycle costs over time. You know, and we've had these conversations a lot throughout COVID, too, because those systems have had to be overridden, so that they can bring in that fresh air and have those air changes per hour, and beefing up those filtration systems just to make it safer to be inside together. So I don't think anyone has really garnered any cost savings this past year they've been doing that other than their buildings maybe not being in operation fully the full amount of hours. Hopefully, future technology has also take that into account, that need for healthy fresh air and creating an environment where you're not bringing in air through leaks and that sort of thing, so you're maintaining that energy efficiency as well. So speaking about future technologies, I know that the Department of Energy Resources has been very transparent as they move forward with these initiatives that are put forth in the Climate Act, and also with the State portfolio with Executive Order 594, and the crafting of policies and incentives and codes. And I was just wondering if you could share a little bit about what's happening in that area, and, to the extent that you can, because I know that there are probably internal conversations that are happening that you don't necessarily want to make public yet as you go through and investigate what would be best, but just kind of where we're going, and what libraries and municipalities might want to consider as we move forward. Because I know that as the codes are developed and change and shift and become mandated, it takes several years for one of our projects to come to fruition. So what they've designed five years ago and they're just breaking ground now, you know, what kind of shifts are happening and what do they need to consider now, even though these mandates may not be in place, but by the time they get to breaking ground, they may be.

Joanne Bissetta  59:28

So I'll take a stab at this at first. So what I'm going to talk about a bit is what's called a stretch energy code, which if your green community your community already has adopted the stretch code, and this is something that gets revised periodically over time. One of the provisions going back to the Green Communities Act, that 80 page law, one of the provisions of that is that the regular building code needs to be updated every three years. That's something that occurs not within DOER, but within the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, the BBRS. They have a public process that they go through every three years, give or take, sometimes it takes longer to update the efficiency of the existing building code. What has happened, well, the situation we're in now is that the base building code is about the same as the stretch energy code. The stretch energy code hasn't been updated as recently as the base building code. So right now, they're somewhat the same in terms of energy performance. And what is going on right now is both codes are going to be updated. Soon, the BBRS is working on it in consultation with folks from DOER and other stakeholders in developing the new code. In terms of updates, they hope to roll out a new base building code and a new stretch code sometime in early next year to be effective in early 2023. So there's sort of a long lead in process. And stretch code has always been about performance. So the base code is basically a checklist that builders would have, and designers, that identify what types of materials to use for construction, what's, you know, the efficiency of windows, insulation and so forth, and you basically just check the list off. With the stretch code, this is actually based on building performance. So you need to design the building to meet a certain standard and engage a consultant called a HERS rater, this is about residential, mostly. HERS ratings are involved with the commercial buildings, which public buildings are considered commercial. But just to go through this process, the HERS rater will evaluate how the building is designed and assign a certain score to it. And then they will come back at the end of the process and determine if the building is actually performing as it's been designed to and then comes up with a final score. And those scores are getting more efficient over time. So the new stretch code that comes into effect in 2023 will be more efficient than what we have now. Then there's another code that has yet to have a name and certain policy advocates and others talk about the net zero code, or net zero ready code, or the superstretch code, we're not sure what it's going to be called yet, but this is going to be much more efficient code that municipalities will be able to opt into. So it won't be required, but it'll be part of another toolkit that municipalities can utilize. And if the community wants to encourage much more energy efficient or net zero construction in their communities. That process is still underway in terms of what that would include. It's certainly going to highly encourage solar upfront, so if you're building a new building, put solar on it, when you're building it. There's another concept called Passive House, which is a way of building a new building that has a very, very tight envelope. And that's gaining traction in the building community here in Massachusetts, particularly with multi-family buildings. And they can also build public buildings with that sort of standard as well. And when this would become promulgated, it might be sometime next year, it might be in 2023, I'm not quite sure yet, because it's still under development. But I think overall, in terms of the crystal ball, if you will, probably by late 2020s, this would become the regular code as the codes evolve over time. If we are going to meet our climate goals, which are established in the climate act, things need to be ratcheted up. So over time, new construction is going to get, you know, much more energy efficient, carbon neutral, if you will, by including electric heating and cooling and solar on site. But the details are yet to be determined.

Andrea Bunker  1:04:04

And has there been any discussion of new incentives to go along with any of these policies or code upgrades?

Joanne Bissetta  1:04:14

Well, I mentioned that the new construction incentives that the Mass Save utilities provide, so those are fairly robust. And in terms of other incentives, the Mass Save program gets me evaluated and updated every three years as well. So this is something that's called the Three Year Plan. And we are now in the final planning stages of the next Three Year Plan that will start in 2022. This is a public process through the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council that has many stakeholders in that group that will opine and influence and finally vote on these standards. They're still planning and revising the next Three Year Plan, but these plans are developed by the program administrators, which are essentially the publicly owned utilities. So they're the ones who write the plan. The Department of Public Utilities ultimately approves the plan. And the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council weighs in and advises and encourages what should be in the plan. So they're in that process now of highly encouraging these plans to have fairly aggressive incentives for electrifying and decarbonizing existing buildings. But we'll know in October when the final plan is approved by the DPU. But I know that it's definitely heading in that direction.

Andrea Bunker  1:05:41

And is there anything else that you think our listeners should know about, I guess, energy efficiency at the local municipal level, and anything about, you know, resources available or tools available through your divisions that haven't already been discussed?

Joanne Bissetta  1:05:59

Sure, I'll start. First of all, particularly for the library administrators that are listening in, see if your community has a sustainability coordinator, an energy coordinator, and engage with them. If not, see if there's an energy or a sustainability committee, a lot of communities are now putting these groups together to advocate and advise the municipality on actions and projects to implement. I would also encourage folks, we have a listserv, that the Green Communities Division sends out maybe once a month on things that we think would be of interest to municipalities, so this would be any grant opportunities, webinars, tools, resources, etc. So we don't flood your inboxes, but we highly encourage people to sign up to receive these. We have, I don't know, close to 1500 folks on the list. You can sign up for that from our website. That's how you learn when the META grant is finally open for solicitation, you'll be notified that way, as well as any other webinars and things. In terms of other tools, a regional planning agency called the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, or MAPC, has been very active in this space. They have a pretty robust clean energy team on their staff. And they've received lots of funding over time to implement tools that any municipality can use, you don't have to be in the MAPC area, which is primarily in the metropolitan Boston area. They're developing something called a net zero playbook, which will provide sort of a step by step guidance for communities looking into some sort of net zero planning at the community level. They also have a tool that will help develop a greenhouse gas inventory for the community, as well as other tools and resources, so I encourage folks interested in exploring these to go to the MAPC website and to the Clean Energy section.

Andrea Bunker  1:08:06

I cannot thank you enough for being with us today and spending some time on this beautiful summer day inside talking to us on a podcast. We look forward to working with you in the future as we move forward with our own grant program. I think it's going to be valuable connecting and partnering and making sure that we're aligning so that we can all meet our State's energy goals, and hopefully they have our planet for the future.

Catie Snyder  1:08:31

Thank you for inviting us and thanks for bringing these topics to the table. We're excited to continue collaborating in the future.

Joanne Bissetta  1:08:37

Absolutely. And thank you for your interest in this as well.

Andrea Bunker  1:08:41

And thank you for tuning in. Join us next time as we explore another important topic for library building projects. Until then, be well! 

List of resources: 

Green Communities web site – will link to current and past grant opportunities for reference: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/green-communities-division

Decarbonization Roadmap https://www.mass.gov/info-details/ma-decarbonization-roadmap

Net -Zero new construction webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNBNm-AGI9c

MAPC Net Zero info: https://www.mapc.org/net-zero/what-is-net-zero/

MassSave website https://www.masssave.com/en/saving/business-rebates

MAFMA training and tutorials - https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mafma-training-and-tutorials

MassCEC preferred installer lists: 

Air-source heat pumps (https://goclean.masscec.com/installers/)

Ground-source heat pumps (https://www.masscec.com/ground-source-heat-pump-installers)

Solar hot water (https://www.masscec.com/solar-hot-water-installers)

Automated wood heating (https://www.masscec.com/automated-wood-heating-installers)

EJ Communities in Massachusetts - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/environmental-justice-populations-in-massachusetts

PowerOptions program for public entity solar PPAs- https://poweroptions.org/programs/solar/

MassEVIP incentives for public, workplace, and other electric vehicle charging - https://www.mass.gov/doc/matrix-of-massevip-grant-programs/download

Utility make ready programs for electric vehicle charging (Eversource and National Grid) - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/electric-vehicle-charging