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Energy Committee Focus On Reducing Emissions

Belmont's newest committee takes next step to finding best methods to energy efficiency.

Energy Committee Focus On Reducing Emissions

Belmont's newest committee reached a cornerstone Thursday, Aug. 5, as the Belmont Energy Committee began carving out a five-year action plan to cut carbon fuel discharges by residents, commercial entities and the town.

"This is a huge step," said Energy Committee Chairman Roger Colton of moving forward on a few broad categories that will be studied by newly constructed subcommittees.

The subcommittees will work on four areas of concern: transportation, municipal, residential and commercial.

With goals now before them, the committee will be creating steps to meet their goal: that they will be able to measure the program's progress in reducing carbon emissions.

In fact, after constructing the groups, Colton said, "the next step is fun" for the subcommittee members: selecting solutions and methods "that is driven on large part on what is interesting."

But he said the subcommittees objective is to see what solutions "can give the biggest bang for the buck" focusing on reducing emissions.

The small number of objectives taken up by the newly formed subcommittees will allow them to prioritizing objectives.

"What we need to do is stay focused because we have far more to do than we can handle," said Colton after the meeting

The transportation objectives are two fold: to increase the options, access and use of alternatives to cars driven by one person.  It would find ways to increase resident's use of rail travel, walking, car sharing and using buses.

The subcommittee will also attempt to find ways to increase vehicle efficiency by promoting the use of electrical vehicles, short-term rental cars such as from the Zip Car firm and increasing what residents can do to improve the efficiency of existing fleets.

The municipal subcommittee will develop policies and procurement and investment decisions to increase the energy efficiency in existing town facilities and those to be built.

It can be accomplished by setting new energy standards in new construction by adopting energy standards and life-cycle costing requirements for new buildings.

Another aspect of the subcommittee's work will be increasing the efficient use of energy in town building with smart equipment purchases.

Public Works Director Peter Castanino said that tasks such as making solid waste pick up more efficiency have been discussed in the past, including ending weekly collection to save on fuel and maintenance of a fleet of trucks.

But it was later decided that it would take more fuel and time for residents to drop off their trash.

It will also allow for and promote the installation and development of distributed generation production facilities by adopting enabling zoning by-laws.

This will be important, according to Glen Clancy, the town's community development director, when the town faces the prospect of having a firm or person proposing using land for clean energy purposes.

"Right now they can put a solar facility anywhere under current zoning," he said, pointing to the prospect of the City of Cambridge building a solar energy plant on the Payson Park Reservoir.

"It's a real grey area," Clancy said, suggesting that new ventures be required obtaining a special permit.

The residential group will seek to increase the use of energy in residential homes by increasing the availability of funding by taking the steps to make Belmont a "Green Community."

Other steps lead to increase energy efficiency in new construction and rehab by supporting new municipal energy standards and implementing of the Belmont Municipal Light Department's energy efficiency plan with money and reducing electrical costs.

Much of want is to be considered in residential homes can be found in the mechanism to be adopted for commercial properties including increasing the use of efficient appliances including hot water, lighting and heating cooling systems.

Discussions also included attempting to obtain fuel from areas in town that once held trash

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