Polito applauds Wendell’s Green Community efforts

  • Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Wendell Energy Committee co-chairwoman Nan Riebschlaeger during Polito’s visit to Wendell Town Offices to commend the town of its use of Green Community grant money from the state. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WENDELL — The town has had a 22 percent reduction in energy costs for municipal buildings and vehicles in the five years since it earned a state Green Community designation, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said it serves as an inspiration to other towns and cities across the state.

Polito visited Wendell Town Offices on Tuesday morning as part of a trip to the area, which included stops in Gill, Shelburne Falls, Sunderland and Leverett. She told Wendell officials she wanted to acknowledge their town’s efforts to become more energy efficient using $138,000 in state money. The state’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program has helped 185 cities and towns earn a Green Community designation, making them eligible for state grants.

Nan Riebschlaeger, co-chairwoman of the Wendell Energy Committee, explained the money was used on duct work under Town Hall and for more energy-efficient lighting inside Wendell Town Offices and the Wendell Free Library. Standing in a hallway with some Wendell officials, Polito said $138,000 is a lot of money for any community.

“It does take a champion to move these things forward,” she said, gesturing to Riebschlaeger.

“I had help,” Riebschlaeger said, gesturing to Jim Barry, a former Belchertown selectman who was hired by the state Department of Energy Resources to explain the Green Communities program throughout western Massachusetts.

Other locals lauded their town’s longtime commitment to environmentalism and the green movement.

“Before there were Green Communities, Wendell was a green community,” Wendell Town Administrator Nancy Aldrich told Polito.

When the gathering moved to a conference room, Polito asked what Wendell’s goals are as a Green Community. Riebschlaeger said members of the energy committee want Wendell to become a net-zero community, which according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a community “that has greatly reduced energy needs through efficiency gains such that the balance of energy for vehicles, thermal and electrical energy within the community is met by renewable energy.” The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is run by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Shoutouts to Wendell’s energy reduction and the “winter wonderland” weather in western Massachusetts on Tuesday were made on Polito’s Twitter account.

Other stops

Following her visit to Wendell, Polito was headed to Gill where she was set to mark the town’s signing of the community compact.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 258. On Twitter: @DomenicPoli