Aug 3, 2011

In-State Sustainability

What, exactly, is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts doing to promote sustainability?

According to Joanne Bissetta (left) of the Massachusetts Dept. of Energy Resources, the state is doing plenty. At today's Sustainability Forum meeting in Lynn, she covered some of the programs and initiatives the Commonwealth has implemented, noting that Massachusetts actually has the "most ambitious" energy efficiency program in the country. That's something to be proud of.

The basic mission of the DOER is to support Massachusetts' clean energy companies and to spur clean energy employment and resources. To help this mission, Gov. Deval Patrick has prioritized plans like the Green Jobs Act and Green Communities Act, which reward and encourage sustainable behavior with generous funding.

The Green Jobs Act pushes for economic development and job creation in the green technology industry by authorizing $58 million in funding and grants. The Green Communities Grant Program lends up to $10 million per year to communities that qualify as environmentally-friendly. Powerful incentives: carrots not sticks.

The 74 "green communities" in Massachusetts buy fuel-efficient vehicles, foster efficient "green" buildings and promote the siting of renewable energy facilities. Communities have used these grants to take small steps to improve efficiency locally. For example, Salem implemented energy-efficient streetlights and Melrose added an energy-efficient roof to its high school.

Do you live in a Green Community?

Rick Reibstein (right), the second speaker at today's Sustainability Forum, works for the state to offer sustainable advice to manufacturers and businesses. As the manager of Outreach and Policy of the MA Office of Technical Assistance (part of the Office of Executive and Environmental affairs), he helps companies reduce waste and their use of toxic materials.

Participation is voluntary for companies. Those who choose to use Reibstein's services receive an understanding of their efficiency, along with advice on what to do or who to connect with.

"We've probably cut in half what toxics we did have," said Reibstein. "However, we still have hundreds of millions of pounds of toxics."

Massachusetts, along with New Jersey, are the two most progressive states in their measurement of toxic materials. That's another accomplishment to be proud of. Toxic materials are used extensively, they make their way into our homes, our water, our environment. But it doesn't have to be that way.

"It's just a smarter way of doing business," said Reibstein.

For more information on MA initiatives, visit:
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