Green Communities

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Green Communities

The landmark 2008 Massachusetts Green Communities Act created a framework for building more sustainable communities throughout Massachusetts. Its provisions are wide-ranging and far reaching in impact, but the focus here is on two elements:

  • The Green Communities program
  • Creation of the DoER's Green Communities Division


The Green Communities Division was established to a single, central point of contact to support all 351 towns and cities in making their communities more sustainable.


Individual communities may choose to join the Green Communities Program and be designated as a Massachusetts Green Community. Communities that qualify as Green Communities are eligible for funding to support innovative energy programs in their communities as well as additional technical support and assistance from the Green Communities Division.


Funding for the grants is provided by some of the proceeds Massachusetts receives from auctioning CO2 allowances in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program. This funding is especially attractive because it is not part of the state budget process and therefore not subject to the kind of cuts we are seeing in other programs in these difficult economic times.


As the program is just getting underway, this is an ideal time for Needham to step up. Becoming one of the early Green Communities has two advantages - less competition for available funds and increased attention and support from those who want to see the success of early adopters to encourage others.

The above was written in May, 2009. As of May, 2010, a first group of 35 Massachusetts cities and towns have been certified as Massachusetts Green Communities - see the list.


A municipality has to do the following to be designated a Green Community:

  • File an application
  • Adopt as-of-right siting, in designated locations, for renewable/alternative energy generation, R&D, or manufacturing
  • Adopt an expedited (12 month) application/permitting process
  • Establish an energy use baseline inventory with a program to reduce baseline by 20% in 5 years
  • Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles (subject to availability)
  • Stretch Building Code - Require all new residential construction > 3000 ft2, and new commercial and industrial real estate construction to minimize life-cycle energy costs


We invited Mark Sylvia, the Director of the Green Communities Division, to speak to Green Needham's May, 2009 meeting about the Green Communities Division and the Green Communities program. The Needham Channel taped the meeting and will be showing it in June. You'll find a link to a copy of Mark's presentation below.


Interested in helping Needham achieve Green Community status? Join our Green Needham team to help Needham become a Massachusetts Green Community.


  • Green Communities Program - Presentation by Mark Sylvia, DoER Green Communities Division Director at the May 20, 2009 Green Needham Meeting