How green is my city? Greener than ever, thanks to some new and ongoing initiatives from the Melrose Energy Commission and Energy Efficiency Manager Martha Grover. Here's a look at some of their accomplishments from 2017.
Melrose Energy Challenge Reaps Rewards: In 2016, we took the Melrose Energy Challenge and succeeded in surpassing all our MassSave home energy assessment goals. Because we met this and other milestones, National Grid awarded Melrose $34,000, which funded:
- An XL Hybrid system on our new water tech van which will save 25% on fuel usage and costs;
- Solar-powered LED lighting at the Melrose Dog Park and four more will be installed at the new Pine Banks Dog Park in the spring;
- An outdoor water bottle filling station at Fred Green Athletic Complex;
- A Soofa solar-powered phone charging bench at the Melrose Common and another one on the way to the high school campus this spring.
Greener Buildings Use Less Energy: In 2017 Melrose received our fourth Green Community grant for $217,484. This helped fund energy efficiency projects at the Lincoln Elementary School, the Milano Center, and the middle and high schools. Energy efficiency projects in all of our buildings have helped the city avoid significant utility cost increases over the past five years, despite the fact that our schools and other public buildings are used around the clock, now more than ever before.
Solar Successes: The installation of a 60Kw solar array is underway this month on the south-facing roof of the DPW facility on Tremont Street, and Melrose will also purchase electricity at a discounted rate from a new solar parking lot canopy that will be installed this year at the Oak Grove T station.
In addition, Melrose was one of the first cities in the country to receive the SolSmart designation, which recognizes our success in making it easier for people and businesses to go solar by reducing the “soft costs” of permitting and planning solar installations.
Electric Vehicles: We purchased our third all-electric fleet vehicle in 2017 which will be shared by city employees. Efforts to make our fleet more fuel efficient has reduced overall vehicle fuel use by over 25% in the last eight years.
We also are adding a second charging station in the Cedar Park commuter lot, in addition to the one in the City Hall parking lot. Last year, we joined 276 cities around the country and took part in National Drive Electric Week at the Victorian Fair for the first time. Look for a bigger and better electric vehicle showcase in 2018!
Downtown Microgrid: Melrose has made it to the final round in a selection process for funds to build a microgrid in downtown Melrose. This would give us more resiliency in case of an extended power outage.
Coming Attractions: Our plans for 2018 include
- starting the process to develop a solar canopy over the Melrose High School parking lot;
- bringing back the popular Community Electricity Aggregation Program; and
- updating the Hazard Mitigation Plan to include impacts from climate change on our infrastructure, environment, and vulnerable populations.
In addition, Melrose is an active participant in the Metro Mayors Climate Preparedness Task Force and is committed to being Net Zero/Carbon Free by 2050. We’re incorporating net zero energy components in future building renovations, including the plans for the new public safety and library projects, as we know these facilities will be used for the next 75 years or more.
The Melrose Energy Commission volunteer membership has expanded and grown enough that they now have several subcommittees working on a variety of local energy efficiency, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas reduction initiatives for the coming year. They welcome interested citizens who want to help to make Melrose a sustainable place to live and work now and for future generations of citizens.