Westborough Climate Action Plan sets path for greater energy efficiency

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

Westborough town iconWestborough – The state has a mandatory plan to “de-carbonize” over the next 30 years. Westborough’s Climate Action Task Force now wants to help prepare its community and assist in that transition.

Toward that end, Task Force Chair Peter Dunbeck presented a draft of a new Climate Action Plan at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting, March 9.

In his presentation, Dunbeck noted that the community’s efforts are recommended, not required, but center around several goals where Westborough can do its “fair share” to most dramatically reduce emissions.

Those areas include prioritizing development of buildings where existing and future construction would have high performance heat pumps and energy efficient structures and appliances, encouraging modes of transportation that rely on electricity, expanding wind and solar energy use and conducting forest and land management to enhance “carbon sequestration.”

Dunbeck emphasized that changes, if implemented, would impact everyone differently. It is important, he said, to further understand particular differences in those impacts based on age, economics and the types of homes where people live.

The town now has it work cut out for it providing information about state incentives and regulatory changes as Westborough adapts to comply with new regulations in effect by 2050, Dunbeck said.

Dunbeck suggests Westborough identify a “single point of contact” sustainability coordinator who can work with town staff, department heads, and community organizations.

“It’s important that we spend time understanding expectations over time and how work will get doled out,” Dunbeck said.

Feedback on the plan continues until a March 26 deadline. Selectmen will view an updated document at their April 13 meeting.

In the meantime, Selectman Patrick Welch questioned, March 9, how much the state would help Westborough carry out “aggressive” mandates. Dunbeck responded that the state’s intent is to provide assistance. It still needs to provide a documented plan with specifics of these mandates and support structures, through.

Newly appointed Selectmen Chair Allen Edinberg also spoke up, March 9, discussing the need for “broader engagement” with commercial and industrial entities in town.

He noted that increased subsidies for electric car charging stations are included in the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

“They could become a differentiator,” he said, noting the presence of such stations could influence where somewhere has a meal or shops in the downtown area.

The steps toward greater efficiency can have a positive impact on the environment, economy and business, he said.