WESTFORD — The Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee with Westford Climate Action held the first public forum on Westford’s net-zero carbon emissions progress.
The Westford Climate Roadmap is a product of a resolution on the Oct. 2020 Special Town Meeting Warrant. The resolution promotes clean energy and reduces fossil fuel use in Westford by 2050.
Nearly a year after the resolution passed with a majority vote, the first draft of the road map was published in Nov. 2021.
“The road map is an evolving document,” said Beth Perkins, a member of the Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee in the April 27 forum. “As our world changes and our technology changes, we will be modifying this document.”
Select Board praises current progress
Select Board Chair Andrea Peraner-Sweet updated attendees on the town’s progress since Oct. 2020.
“As a result of the resolution that was passed at the 2020 fall Town Meeting, the Select Board committed Westford to that resolution and committed Westford to addressing climate change.”
The board reestablished Westford’s Energy Committee, refocusing its efforts to clean energy and sustainability.
“The energy committee had gone somewhat dormant over the few prior years, so we reinvigorated and re-energized it,” she said.”
She continued, “this committee has taken a very prominent role in our town.”
Peraner-Sweet noted efforts in working with the Town of Carlisle to hire a regional sustainability coordinator. The position is funded through a $94,902 grant from the Community Compact Cabinet Efficiency and Regionalization Grant Program.
“We are now in the process of interviewing and hiring for that position,” said Peraner-Sweet. “It is my hope that such a person will be on board sometime by summertime at the latest.”
Town continues outreach on recommendations, goals for community
Residential, commercial and municipal buildings account for over 58% of the town’s total emissions. The groups encourage building owners to consider electrical systems to replace aging appliances.
“We need to consider an electric system when systems in our homes need to be replaced,” said Perkins. “Insulate and air-seal your homes and switch to high efficiency heat pumps.”
The groups hope to eventually update town bylaws to promote increased efficiency and reduce emissions in new and current construction.
“We need to set clearly defined standards for new buildings, and upgrade and retrofit for new systems,” she said.
An additional 40% of emissions result from personal, commercial and municipal transit. The groups hope to increase electric vehicle usage in town and create a larger charging network in trafficked areas.
“We need to promote the leasing of purchasing electric vehicles for residents, businesses, the town and schools when purchasing additional vehicles,” she said. “We are not recommending that you take a new vehicle and replace it with an electric vehicle immediately, but when the time comes to replace it to consider an electric vehicle.”
Presenters note that though the goal is to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee has continued to work to implement goals as quickly as possible.
Some accomplishments include working with town management to secure grants for tree management and invasive species, as well as promoting net-zero goals in the design of the proposed 51 Main St. municipal office building and Cameron Senior Center HVAC upgrades.
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