As the alarming effects of climate change become increasingly evident, Needham is stepping up its efforts to support the state’s ambitious goals of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reaching Net Zero Emissions by 2050.
Coming soon! Needham’s Climate Action Planning Committee, which has been meeting since Spring 2022, will soon be finalizing its Sustainable Needham Climate Action Roadmap.
Even before the Roadmap is complete, however, the Committee has made interim recommendations which have resulted in substantial progress over the past year.
Most recently, the Climate Action Planning Committee recommended that the Town adopt the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code. At the October 30 Special Town meeting, members voted decisively to adopt that Specialized Code, which was supported by the Select Board and endorsed by Green Needham and the Needham League of Women Voters.
The Specialized Code will ensure that new construction is built for the net zero emissions future. The Code puts no additional requirements on all-electric buildings, but for new residential and commercial construction using fossil fuel heat or appliances, the Code mandates solar panels (with some exceptions) and pre-wiring for future transition to electric. The Specialized Code will go into effect on July 1, 2024. Read more.
In 2022, Town Meeting had voted on another important measure, authorizing the Town to move ahead with a Community Energy Aggregation program, which the Needham Climate Action Planning Committee has identified as the single most impactful action that the Town can take in the immediate term to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The program’s goal is to stabilize prices and increase the amount of renewable energy being fed into the electric grid. The Town has engaged the consulting firm Massachusetts Power Choice to help with development of the aggregation plan, which will be known as Needham Power Choice.
The initial public review presentation is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 5th during the regularly scheduled Select Board Meeting. That presentation will kick off a 30-day public review period. The draft documents will be available online. More details to come.
And finally, the Town is in the process of hiring its first Sustainability Manager to develop, coordinate, and administer programs and policies to advance Needham’s sustainability objectives.
All these steps are a community effort involving Town elected officials, staff, the Climate Action Planning Committee, Town Meeting, local organizations such as Green Needham and the League of Women Voters of Needham, and most importantly, residents of Needham who make their voices heard through voting and contacting their representatives.
The journey has just begun!