City Council holds first Climate Resilience Committee meeting


By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

City Council holds first Climate Resilience Committee meeting
Marlborough City Councilors and Climate Resilience Committee members David Doucette and Laura Wagner sit during the Climate Resilience Committee’s recent meeting. (Screenshot/via WMCTTV)

MARLBOROUGH – The City Council has a new Climate Resilience Committee. 

Announced earlier this year, the committee held its inaugural meeting June 29 to discuss the role it can and should play regarding current and upcoming projects.

Those projects include waste management, new building developments, work to attract new businesses to Marlborough and more. 

As they met, committee members also discussed efforts to ensure Marlborough applies for any federal or state grants to fund applicable upcoming projects. 

Committee members were joined June 29 by Conservation/Sustainability Officer Priscilla Ryder and Commissioner of Public Works Sean Divoll. Together, the group reviewed past and current work the city is doing to promote sustainability and, ultimately, cost savings for residents.

“The key to this [process] at the end of the day has to be scientific and environmental based, but you’re saving people and the city money,” Committee Chair David Doucette told his colleagues. “I also believe in best practices, and we should look at what other communities are doing well [because] I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel.”

Doucette is joined on the committee by Councilors Don Landers and Laura Wagner. As is the case with all council committees, any other councilor who wants to attend and comment at any meeting is also permitted to do so.

Balancing sustainability efforts and cost

Though there are many things that can be done to reduce carbon emissions, including residential upgrades in heating and cooling systems, some are worried about equity issues. 

Wagner expressed concern over the cost burden certain actions could place on some residents. She said this should be taken into consideration by the committee as it makes any recommendations or decisions going forward.

 “We as councilors are stewards of this city,” Wagner emphasized. “It’s not about what’s right in this moment. It’s for generations to come.”

Marlborough has made progress to “Green Up” 

The city has already installed approximately 12 electric vehicle charging stations. Likewise, it has purchased several electric and hybrid vehicles for municipal use with a plan to purchase electric or hybrid trucks and heavy equipment when they come to market. 

The city has upgraded streetlights and has also been working to upgrade all lighting in municipal buildings, including schools, to LED bulbs. 

Divoll explained that $1.6 million in projected energy savings and National Grid incentives will offset the price tag on this lighting project. 

Solar panels on four schools will be completed by the fall, Ryder said, coupling with other completed projects to fill 80 percent of municipal energy needs through renewable options. 

In addition, grant money is being used to install new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) in two schools. That follows HVAC upgrades at City Hall last year, which resulted in greater efficiency, Ryder said. 

The city also has the opportunity, once its old landfill on Bolton Street is capped, to put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to install solar panels at that site, Doucette noted.

Marlborough has addressed environmental concerns for over a decade and was designated a “Green Community” by the state in 2010. It has also formally “committed to reduce energy use in municipal properties.” 

The City Council’s Committee on Climate Resilience is planning to schedule its next meeting in one month.

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