Clean Energy & Climate Change

Shaping the Future of Your Community

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Resources in the 495 Toolkit:


Massachusetts is a leader in addressing climate change through such initiatives as the Global Warming Solutions Act, the transportation re-organization statute, the Clean Energy and Climate Plan, and the GreenDOT initiative. One of the key principles of the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan is that land use and transportation planning decisions must take into account the principles established by these initiatives.

Compact and well-sited development and infrastructure reduces the consumption of land, energy, and water, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting forests and restoring river systems also helps increase resiliency to the effects of climate change and reduces vulnerability of property and infrastructure to flood damage.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Green Communities
Greening Transportation
Energy Efficiency
Protecting Natural Carbon Storage and Resiliency
Quick Links on Climate Change and Energy

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

  • Westford Solar Park

    Westford Solar Park © Andrew Sylvia
    Westford Solar Park © Andrew Sylvia

    This 4.5 MW, 22-acre solar array, one of the largest in the state, was developed through a public-private partnership.

    Global Warming Solutions Act. Passed in 2008, the Act establishes a comprehensive program to address climate change. It sets economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for Massachusetts:
    • Between 10% and 25% below statewide 1990 GHG emission levels by 2020; and
    • 80% below statewide 1990 GHG emission levels by 2050.
  • The state has produced a Clean Energy and Climate Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Report. Reducing sprawl, preserving forests, and increasing energy efficiency in buildings and transportation are important strategies for both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing the impacts of climate changes already underway, such as flooding from increasing storm intensities.

Green Communities

Massachusetts Wind Resource Map

Wind Speed Map

There are many actions municipalities can take to reduce their energy footprint and make the community more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

  • Through the Green Communities Act, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs established a Green Communities Division, which helps cities and towns maximize energy efficiency in public buildings, generate clean energy from renewable sources, and manage rising energy costs. Communities that adopt measures to be recognized as Green Communities qualify for state grants.
  • Renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and other distributed sources are being developed in and by many communities, with the support of state programs and grants, including the Smart Growth/Smart Energy toolkit with model bylaws.

Greening Transportation

  • GreenDOT. MassDOT’s comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative is “greening” the state transportation system through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, promotion of walking, bicycling, and public transit, and smart growth development.
  • See the Transportation Infrastructure section of this toolkit for more ideas on how to reduce transportation related energy emissions.

Energy Efficiency

Massachusetts is a national leader in energy conservation and efficiency.

  • State programs offer many forms of technical assistance and grants for energy efficiency.
  • Lighting the Way: A New Era of Clean Energy Solutions. This guide by the 495/MetroWest Partnership organizes information on energy efficiency in an easy to use format addressing:
    • Benefits and barriers of energy efficiency/conservation practices.
    • Municipal planning for energy efficiency and conservation.
    • The Commonwealth's recent regulatory and policy changes related to energy use.
    • NSTAR programs related to energy efficiency and conservation.

Protecting Natural Carbon Storage and Resiliency

  • Preparing for Climate Change

    storm damaged road

    Climate change is predicted to bring more frequent, intense storms. By protecting forests and stream buffers, and designing infrastructure to handle larger flows, we can reduce risks of damage and costly repairs.

    Protecting forests, wetlands, and other natural areas is important to maintain the carbon sequestration function of natural lands. See the PPA section for more information on tools for land protection.
  • Climate change is expected to affect water resources significantly, leading to both more flooding and more frequent droughts. See the Water Resources and Infrastructure section for tools to protect water resources and make development more resilient to the water related effects of climate change.

Make the Switch 

Bring more renewable energy to your home and community by switching to green electricity. It’s easier than you think! Find out how

Quick Links on Climate Change and Energy

495/MetroWest Development Compact

The Patrick-Murray Administration through Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development partnered with Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the MetroWest Regional Collaborative, the 495/MetroWest Partnership, and Mass Audubon to engage the region in the preparation of a comprehensive land use and development plan.