CHATHAM – The town has been designated a Green Community by the state department of energy resources, making it eligible for grant money to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Town staff are currently assembling a grant proposal specifying how the $134,620 award will be used. The focus will be on high-priority building projects identified as part of the Green Community Program's energy reduction plan, according to Principal Projects Planner and Operations Administrator Terry Whalen. The Cape Light Compact is helping to define implementation costs, he added.
The state's Green Community Designation and Grant Program provides financial and technical support to help municipalities to cut energy use by as much as 20 percent over five years and meet four other criteria contained in the Green Communities Act. More than half of the cities and towns in the state have received the designation, according to the program's website.
Along with reducing energy consumption, the program aims help towns gain access to clean, affordable and resilient energy projects; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote energy efficient building construction; foster renewable and clean energy technologies; and strengthen the local economy.
Chatham has met the five criteria set up by the program. The criteria are allowing siting of solar generating facilities (the town has photovoltaic arrays at the former landfill and on several town buildings); providing expedited permitting for renewable energy projects; adoption of an energy reduction plan and a fuel-efficient vehicle policy; and adoption of the “stretch building code,” which sets higher energy use standards for new buildings.
The town has leased four electric vehicles; the latest is a 100 percent battery powered Nissan Leaf which will be used by the town's building inspection department. The three-year lease will be funded in part by a $5,000 state department of environment protection grant. The town currently has four electronic or hybrid vehicles in its fleet.
A grant will also help fund two electronic vehicle charging stations for town employees, one at the annex and one at the town office on Main Street. Funds are also being sought for public charging stations on town properties, according to Town Manager Jill Goldsmith's December town manager's report.
The town will also receive four signs announcing the designation to post in the community as well as an official certificate signed by the governor.