Environmental and Land Use Law

Updates on Environmental and Land Use Law in New England and the US from Anderson & Kreiger LLP


Lexington Goes Green

Inspiration for acting on climate change starts with our local communities.  We are proud to represent the Town Lexington, which over the past decade has taken significant steps to become a greener community and take action on climate change.

In June of 2017, the Lexington Board of Selectmen voted to become the first Town in Massachusetts to join the US Compact of Mayors (now known as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy) in their commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and to continue to take action to mitigate climate change. The Compact of Mayors was formed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in September 2014 at the UN Climate Summit. The newly created Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy unites more than 7,100 cities in 119 countries across six continents in the shared goal of fighting climate change through coordinated local climate action.

By joining the US Compact of Mayors, the Town agreed to develop an energy and emissions baseline, conduct a climate vulnerability analysis, set emissions targets, adopt a climate action plan, and perhaps most importantly to take the actions necessary to achieve emissions targets.  Lexington already has completed many of these first steps.

The Town agreed to report its performance against these goals at least annually to the US Compact of Mayors.  The Compact will in turn report the overall performance of Cities and Towns to the United Nations.  The local government activities will be integrated with information on all climate-related activities across the whole of the United States, as part of a collective commitment to achieving the goals set forth in the Paris Climate Accord.  To assist the Cities and Towns who have signed the US Compact of Mayors, free technical assistance will be provided to help reporting of performance in meeting their goals.

The commitment of Lexington to fight climate change is longstanding.  In 2015, Lexington hosted ambitious solar rooftop projects on its schools and library.  It then cut the ribbon in May, 2017 on a 2.3 megawatt project at its closed landfill.  With some of the solar panels atop canopies, Lexington now pursues multiple activities on the landfill including composting, yard waste drop-off, hazardous household waste collection and even the police department’s firing range for training purposes. A&K attorney Kevin Batt has helped these towns procure, negotiate and manage their leases and power purchase contracts with solar developers. He has helped a score of other communities go solar as well.

As early as 2010, under the groundbreaking Green Communities Act of 2008, Lexington was designated a Green Community.  A&K lawyers assisted in zoning and building code reforms necessary for Lexington to become a Green Community. The Town had to meet five criteria.

  1. Provide as-of-right siting in designated zoning districts for renewable/alternative energy generation, research & development, or manufacturing facilities;
  2. Adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities;
  3. Establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by twenty percent (20%) within five (5) years;
  4. Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles; and
  5. Set requirements to minimize life-cycle energy costs for new construction by adopting the new “Energy Stretch Code.”

As a Green Community, Lexington is among 185 cities and towns in Massachusetts eligible for state grants.  Currently $29 million has been disbursed to 155 communities, with nearly $6.5 million in additional grants for energy projects in the newest 30 designated communities. In Lexington, this grant money has helped fund efficiency improvements in schools such as replacement of outdated, inefficient heating and cooling systems.

With the help of A&K’s Mina Makarious, Lexington was able to implement a “Community Choice” energy aggregation program in 2017.  By bulk purchasing electricity for its residents and small businesses through a competitive procurement, Lexington has secured a supply contract with 100% green energy at a price lower than the basic service supply offered by the local electric utility, Eversource. Program participants may select from additional options for their electricity mix, including choosing supply from all New England renewable sources, as well as the ability to leave the program and return to basic service at any time with no penalty or fee.  Chair of the Community Choice task force Mark Sandeen estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from local buildings will be reduced by 23% as a result of the program.

Anderson & Kreiger hopes to continue to work with the cities and towns in Massachusetts to implement green strategies to help to further the commitment of the Paris Accord to act on climate.

About the Author

Kevin D. Batt – Senior Counsel

Kevin represents public clients in general municipal, land use, environmental, energy and construction matters.

Please contact him at (617) 621-6514 or by emailing kbatt@andersonkreiger.com.

Posted In: Renewable Energy, Solar Energy

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