WESTFORD — Six months have passed since Westford’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee unveiled the Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 framework, and committee chair Mike Berlinski reflected on the town’s progress.
Berlinski reflects on committee progress, achievements
“We’ve been very busy because we have a lot to do to guide the town toward the goal,” Berlinski told WestfordCAT. “I do feel we’ve been successful. One of our main accomplishments was to publish the first road map to guide the town towards its 2050 net-zero goal. It is the first of many versions to come.”
With his background in energy, Berlinski joined Westford’s Energy Committee in 2015. Berlinski was later appointed chair of the then Energy Committee in 2018.
After a proposed goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 was passed at the Special Town Meeting in Oct. 2020, the Energy Committee was recast as the Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee.
Berlinski notes that this change was effective in creating a more active group within the town.
“We often had trouble fielding a quorum on the Energy Committee. On the other hand, this committee has 11 full time members and an alternate,” he said. “We have never had an issue fielding a quorum.”
The committee also advises the town on energy efficiency and sustainability within municipal buildings. The committee has advised the town on the reconstruction of Westford’s old town center building at 51 Main St.
“Our committee met with other committees to make sure they are considering the town’s climate goals as it was being designed,” he said. “It really is the first time that the town has sustainability in the design of a municipal building.”
Berlinski also praised town officials for securing a $94,902 grant to fund regional sustainability coordinator for one year. Funding comes from the Massachusetts Community Compact grant, which is shared with Carlisle.
Committee shifts focus to outreach, expands audience
Berlinski notes that the committee’s main challenge has been outreach.
“We’re trying to get the word out to folks through our website and our webinars,” he said. “We asked folks what are some of the barriers for changing behaviors, one of the barriers is lack of information.”
The committee has worked to promote various tax credits and rebates for sustainable energy, such as Mass Save, which offers incentives for energy efficient energy usage and appliances.
The committee is working to shift its focus toward private residents and businesses within town in order to better reach the town’s net-zero goals.
“We want to help private residents and businesses in town,” he said. “Now we are charged with getting the word out to all of the residents and businesses.”
He continued, “I work in the energy field. One of my personal hopes for the town is we will consider and get to install a lot more solar systems, primarily on the municipal and school buildings.”
Berlinski encourages individual action
In the meantime, Berlinski encourages residents to take individual action to limit their carbon footprint within town.
“I would encourage them to learn more about their behaviors and where they’re using a lot of energy,” he said. “There may be room for people to make some decisions on some changes in a way that would reduce environmental impacts. It may lower costs with appropriate investments.”
Residents who wish to learn more about Westford’s Climate Roadmap can attend a virtual forum on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. Attendees can register here.
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