We’re proud of Needham’s sustainability achievements and amenities. Green Needham played an leading role in many of these projects. We work collaboratively the Town government and with grassroots organizations such as the Needham League of Women Voters. Other grassroots organizations, mentioned below, played important roles in initiating, suggesting, or directing various projects. Support from Needham residents is key to the success of these initiatives and those yet to come.
Here’s a partial list of what makes Needham “green”:
Climate Action Plan: Coming Soon! In 2022 the Town established a Climate Action Plan Committee to guide the Town in developing a plan that meets or exceeds the State’s climate mitigation and resilience goals, including a commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The CAP will provide a roadmap for the Town, residents, and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resiliency in an equitable way. Green Needham, joined by the Needham League of Women Voters and Mothers Out Front Needham, developed the proposal to the Select Board that resulted in the establishment of the CAPC, and members of Green Needham are participants and contributors to its work. Read more.
Green Community Status: In February 2020 Needham officially became a Green Community, making the Town eligible to obtain grant funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Green Needham first brought this proposal to Town leadership, who embraced it, creating a plan to reduce municipal energy use and making zoning changes to encourage renewable energy development. The final required component, adoption of the Stretch Energy Code, a building code with more stringent energy efficiency requirements than the Base Building Code, was then passed by Town Meeting.
Solar Array at the RTS: Producing energy since 2016, Needham’s 12-acre solar array (11, 870 panels) sits atop the closed landfill at the Recycling and Transfer Station (RTS). The project produces between 3 and 4 million kilowatt hours per year and has generated millions of dollars of revenue for the Town. As of July 2023 it has produced nearly 29 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity! The project was conceived by Green Needham and came to fruition through the collaborative efforts of the Town’s elected leadership and staff, Town Meeting, Green Needham, and an appointed citizens’ advisory committee. Read more.
Town Meeting Support for Green Initiatives: In May, 2023, Town Meeting passed a Plastic Bag Ban, which will be effective on January 1, 2024 for larger establishments and six months later for all retail establishments. Green Needham’s Plastics Waste Reduction team brought the Plastic Bag Ban to Town Meeting as a Citizens’ Petition, after extensive consultation with Town Boards and staff. In October, 2021, Town Meeting passed A Resolution Concerning Declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergency.
Recycling and Transfer Station: Serving Needham residents, the RTS is a collection center for recyclables and many other items, including books, CDs, clothing, shoes, tires, car batteries, food scraps and more. Needham residents may get a free sticker at the Treasurer’s office in Needham Town Hall.
Community Electricity Aggregation: Coming to Needham! The Needham Climate Action Plan Committee has identified pursuing a CEA as the most impactful action that the Town can take in the immediate term to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In October 2022, Town Meeting authorized Town staff to move forward with Community Electricity Aggregation (CEA), a program in which a municipality contracts with an electricity supplier with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing electricity costs. The reduction is achieved by increasing the amount of renewable energy being fed into the electricity grid. The process to develop and implement the aggregation plan can take 12-18 months. Green Needham, working with the Needham League of Women Voters and Mothers Out Front Needham, spearheaded the effort to bring CEA to Needham. Read more.
Solarize Needham, 2014 and 2019. Partnering with the Town, Green Needham organized and executed two successful Solarize initiatives, facilitated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The program offered discounted solar panel installations to Needham homeowners and businesses. Solar power has gained in popularity in Needham. As of 2021 Needham had 674 residential systems.
Needham Rail Trail. Part of a projected 7-mile trail, through Newton, Needham, Dover, Medfield and Newton, the Needham section is a flat, mostly wooded, 1.7 mile walking, running, and biking trail along an unused section of MBTA-owned railroad Right-of-Way. The project, a grassroots effort, is coordinated by the non-profit Bay Colony Rail Trail Association.
Local Produce: The Needham Community Farm and the Needham Farmers Market were developed through grassroots efforts. Needham’s Volante Farms, a popular greenhouse, farmstand and cafe, is owned and operated by the fourth generation of the Volante family.