The Baker-Polito Administration recognized eleven Massachusetts state agencies, public higher education institutions, municipalities, and public sector individuals for their leadership in promoting initiatives that reduce environmental impacts and associated energy costs of state operations at the 15th annual Leading by Example Awards Ceremony at UMass Lowell’s University Crossing.

The awards were presented by Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock, and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) Deputy Commissioner Hope Davis, and honored state and municipal leaders for implementing policies and programs that advance significant energy and emissions reductions, renewable energy installations, energy efficiency, waste minimization, electric vehicle infrastructure, and a host of initiatives that reduce environmental impacts and costs.

“Public sector leaders at the state and local level play a crucial role in contributing innovative approaches and solutions that help our state meet its ambitious climate and clean energy goals,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today’s award ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate the good work of our state and municipal leaders and they action they are taking to protect our environment, reduce costs and embrace forward-looking solutions to our energy challenges.”

“The ongoing clean energy and energy efficiency work being done by state entities, municipalities and individuals foster healthier and more sustainable communities to live and work in,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is proud of the Leading by Example team and the awardees we are celebrating today and thank them for their efforts to help us build a resilient clean energy future in the Commonwealth.”

The Leading by Example (LBE) program is administered by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and works collaboratively with state agencies and public colleges and universities to advance clean energy and sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impacts of state government operations. Cities and towns across the Commonwealth receive similar support and grant funding through DOER’s Green Communities Division.

“The ongoing efforts of state agencies, municipalities, and public higher education institutions are driving our ambitious climate goals forward in a meaningful way, and we’re pleased to recognize their dedication and commitment to the Commonwealth through the annual Leading by Example awards,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Governor Baker recently signed an Executive Order outlining a significant expansion of the Leading by Example program, and the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting the efforts of state and municipal entities that are working to implement innovative clean energy solutions.”

In April 2021, Governor Baker signed Executive Order No. 594, Leading by Example: Decarbonizing and Minimizing Environmental Impacts of State Government, which set goals and requirements that will accelerate the decarbonization of fuels used to heat and cool state facilities, help to demonstrate new technologies and strategies necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s energy goals, and quicken the shift to electric heating and vehicles. By leading by example in these and other areas, state government can help guide the Commonwealth toward a cleaner future. Through Leading by Example efforts, state government has collectively reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 34 percent from a 2004 baseline, installed more than 30 megawatts (MW) of solar PV on state lands, reduced heating oil use by 84 percent, eliminating more than 21 million gallons of fuel use annually, installed 260 electric vehicle charging stations, and created and maintained more than 280 acres of pollinator-friendly habitats on state properties. Since 2014, 18 solar projects totaling 16.5 MW of capacity have been installed at state facilities. Beyond contributing to regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions, this solar generation will result in over $34 million in benefits to agencies and campuses over 20 years.

“State facilities continue to advance to a clean and resilient energy future and today’s awardees illustrate that all-electric HVAC systems, solar canopies, and battery storage systems can be implemented affordably and contribute to our state’s overall ambitious climate agenda,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “These clean energy and energy efficiency projects are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy costs across the Commonwealth in our cities and towns and at our universities. It takes real leadership to integrate new clean technology into our existing energy system and it is the awardees for their hard work, dedication, and passion to bring these projects to fruition.”

“The buildings we are creating today will still be in operation in 2050, and every day we make decisions that shape our climate future,” said Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone. “This year’s winners exemplify the creativity, leadership, and commitment to our environment embodied by the Leading by Example Program that are necessary to make a positive impact on our communities and our state.”

State Agency Awardees:

Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is receiving a recognition award for its work in integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation into all of its program areas, including research, education, training, and stewardship. The Reserve has improved building energy efficiency through lighting replacements, improved insulation, and transitioning to efficient heating systems and appliances, but has truly led by example by leading workshops, collaborating with local towns, and acting as a central hub for research and education to ensure the public is well-informed on actions they can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The Board of Library Commissioners Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program is integrating the goals of Executive Order 594 into its funding programs to support the construction of highly-efficient public libraries across the Commonwealth. Over the last several years, the Construction Program helped fund the construction of green libraries that will use no or limited fossil fuels. Recently funded projects include an all-electric HVAC system and geothermal wells for the Cambridge Public Library, and an all-electric VRF HVAC system and infrastructure for a future solar PV installation at the Medford Public Library.

Public Higher Education Awardees:

Bridgewater State University is receiving a recognition award for a number of sustainability efforts across campus, including its successful installation of a 1.3MW solar canopy and a battery energy storage system that are helping to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions and campus energy costs. The campus is also leading in fleet and building energy efficiency, converting vehicles to more efficient models and completing numerous energy projects to reduce thermal energy demand across campus.

Four institutions of public higher education – UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and Salem State University – recently completed comprehensive decarbonization studies to better understand the strategies and technologies needed to meet campus energy needs while achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner. The decarbonization planning teams of these four campuses received an award for their leadership in conducting these studies, fostering collaboration within their own campuses, and coordinating closely with one another to share best practices as they work to translate the roadmaps into action and share lessons that can be applied to future decarbonization studies at other state facilities.

Municipal Awardees:

The City of Greenfield, designated a Green Community in 2010, has achieved a 67.7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2008 and is now putting together a plan to adopt the “Race to Zero Initiative” to ensure future policies support the Commonwealth’s climate goals. The City boasts a long list of achievements, including installation of a 1.2MW solar array on the City’s wellfield, installing a VRF heat pump system in City Hall, and shepherding the first successful Commercial PACE financed project in the state to convert a vacant warehouse into an energy-efficient office space.

The Town of Acton, designated a Green Community in 2010, voted nearly unanimously to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration in 2020, and has since completed a greenhouse gas inventory and launched a Climate Action Plan process to identify strategies the Town will prioritize to curb community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. These plans will build on Acton’s previous successes in emissions reductions, including installing a 1.6 MW solar field on its landfill, procuring 100 percent renewable energy for municipal buildings, constructing an all-electric fire station, converting the entire police fleet to hybrids, and many more.

Ed Vitone, member of the Ashburnham Energy Committee, has spearheaded many energy initiatives in town, ensuring successful implementation of projects aimed at reducing energy use, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions. Notably, Ed’s dual role as both a member of the town’s energy committee and the Stevens Library board of trustees allowed him to successfully shepherd a comprehensive weatherization project, installation of air source heat pumps (ASHPs), and EV charging stations, resulting in a GHG emissions reduction of nearly 70 percent.

Sean Donaghy, Manager of Energy Programs for MBTA, is responsible for the program that manages and tracks MBTA’s greenhouse gas emissions and overall energy use. Under his leadership, the MBTA adopted an energy management system to track energy consumption and costs on nearly 600 accounts, helping the MBTA to make smart decisions about where to invest in energy efficiency and other energy management programs. Among other initiatives, Sean notably guided the MBTA through the procurement of 100 percent renewable electricity through the purchase of renewable energy credits.

Since taking office, the Baker-Polito Administration has invested over $12.6 million in grant funding through the Leading by Example program to state agencies and higher education institutions to advance clean energy efforts. Since 2010, DOER has awarded over $136 million to Green Communities in Designation Grants and Competitive Grants which help municipalities reduce energy use and costs by implementing clean energy projects and energy efficiency measures.