Newton has a long tradition of being a leader on environmental issues. We were the first community in Massachusetts to adopt the state’s Stretch Code, which gives municipalities the ability to enforce stricter energy guidelines for new buildings. More recently, the City was awarded “Green Community” designation by the state, which gives us access to grants to help finance additional energy efficiency projects, which in turn helps reduce our operating costs. We’ve initiated solar panel installations, banned plastic bags and are now looking to ban polystyrene products. Yet there is so much more we can do to truly make an impact.
Develop a Plan to move the City towards Zero Waste. That means developing a set of goals as well as a plan for implementation. The goals should include:
- Reducing the amount of waste hauled to landfills: This not only has the environmental benefit of reducing methane gas emissions, it saves the City money because our trash fees are based on tonnage of waste. By diverting recyclables and food waste/organics from our regular trash stream, we can save the City money while saving our planet.
- Increasing the City’s Recycling Rate: Make it easier for residents to recycle, mandate business recycling and assist non-profit businesses in their recycling efforts
- Piloting a curbside or drop-off food waste/organics collection program
- Developing programs at our schools to divert food waste
Maximize solar installations, including community solar projects so even residents who are renters — or homeowners who do not have suitable roof for solar — can access clean energy.
Ensure all City departments are implementing sound environmental policies.
- Reducing, reusing and recycling wherever possible
- Encourage City workers to use public transportation with a TDM program
- Fund planting of more trees
Adopt a 100% Renewable Energy Plan.
- City must divest from fossil fuel investments
- Move City fleet to fuel-efficient or electric vehicles
- Require all new municipal construction and development using City funds to be net-zero or employee net-zero building practices
- Make improvements to our roadways to accommodate biking and walking
- Work with State officials to increase service on the commuter rail
- Provide free EV-only parking in City lots and on-street where possible
- Provide tax breaks for homes that meet a renewable energy target
- Community Choice Aggregation for electric supply
These initiatives have the potential to affect not only the citizens of Newton, but to inspire other communities to action. I believe Newton can and should lead to make a cleaner and healthier environment for all.