Orange, Shelburne expecting Green Communities grants

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 29, 2017

Orange and Shelburne have set themselves up for six-figure grants after being designated by the state as Green Communities.

The two were among the additional 25 Massachusetts cities and towns bestowed Green Community status by the Department of Energy Resources, making them eligible for state money. Orange is now in line to receive $159,830 in project funding while Shelburne gets $132,575.

All Green Communities take on what the DOER calls “an ambitious renewable energy agenda” to reduce energy consumption and emissions.”

Pat Larson, who sits on Orange’s ad hoc energy committee that formed nearly 10 years ago, said the designation is great news for the town.

“It will help us do some work in town buildings to save on energy costs, and we’re hoping that we can cut the cost for heating some, in the coming year,” she said Thursday.

Larson said the money will be spent on weatherization, the practice of protecting a structure and its interior contents from the elements of harsh weather. She said energy audits were conducted on Orange Town Hall, Fisher Hill School, Dexter Park School, the Orange Armory, and the town’s wastewater treatment facility. Larson said priorities will likely be set in the next few months.


Shelburne Selectboard member Robert Manners said the money “does open up a lot of doors for us improving energy efficiencies of several of the buildings that the town owns,” including Arms Library and Cowell Gymnasium. Manners said heating the gym costs $30,000 a year and weatherization, including increased insulation, will be financed with the money from the state’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program.

One requirement for acceptance into the program is adoption of Stretch Energy Code, which Shelburne voters opted to do in April before Orange residents followed suit in late October.

According to Jim Barry, a former selectman in Belchertown who was hired by the state Department of Energy Resources to explain the Green Communities program in western Mass., the Stretch Energy Code requires new homes to meet a Home Energy Rating System index rating target, instead of requiring the installation of specific levels of energy efficiency for each building element, such as window installation and roof insulation. The HERS rating is a measure based on a home’s total expected energy use and overall efficiency. It is calculated by a certified HERS rater using accredited software.

Barry previously said Stretch Energy Code got its name because it was “a bit of a stretch” compared to Base Energy Code, which is the other option the state gives communities.

According to the DOER, 68 percent of state residents live in a Green Community after this 11th round of designations.