The City of Lowell is pleased to announce that the Green Communities Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has awarded Lowell a grant of $123,574 to continue its ongoing efforts to improve the energy efficiency of its municipal facilities. The funds will be used for improvements at the McAuliffe Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Butler Middle School, and Public Works maintenance garage. Unlike the previous awards under this program, this grant was highly competitive.
In its 2003 Master Plan, Lowell set a goal of becoming a model for sustainability in an urban setting. This award is the latest example of how the City is being recognized for successfully achieving that goal. In response to the highly successful energy services contract, which has made over $20 million in energy efficiency improvements to dozens of municipal buildings over the past two years, the State’s Green Communities Division cited Lowell with a Leading by Example Award in October. In recent years, the City has installed solar panels on several buildings and is currently designing a large solar farm for the former landfill on Westford Street, has implemented the BetterBuildings program to help downtown property owners retrofit their buildings for energy efficiency, partnered with Next Step Living to help homeowners city-wide obtain access to rebates and incentives for improving the comfort and reducing the energy use and costs for their homes, and assisted several green industry businesses to locate and expand in the City.
City Manager Bernard Lynch observed that, “this grant is the latest testament to Lowell’s ongoing efforts to boost its profile as a sustainable and progressive community. Few cities of our size in the country have done more in the area of energy efficiency, which helps the environment, saves money for building owners and taxpayers, and promotes the City’s image as an attractive and green place to invest.”
The grant will specifically allow the City to replace various components of the mechanical systems in the three schools which will reduce operational costs and also address long-term maintenance issues. The funds will also be used to install quick close curtains over the garage door openings at the DPW garage to retain heat during the winter months.
Lowell was eligible for this grant because of its certification as a Green Community. In 2010 Lowell was one of the first municipalities in the Commonwealth to attain this designation and is now one of 86 Massachusetts Green Communities. The designation is granted to those communities which adopt smart growth land-use planning and regulation, the stretch energy code to encourage more energy efficient construction, draft and implement plans to reduce municipal energy use, purchase fuel efficient vehicles for municipal fleets, and allow renewable energy production, generation and research as-of-right in the community.