Natick has a plan to get to net zero by 2050, meaning that greenhouse gas emissions produced would be offset by moving to clean energy, growing the tree canopy, and taking other approaches to removing emissions from the atmosphere. While the town is cutting emissions in schools and municipal buildings, and working with local businesses to slash their emissions, the big target is residential energy use.
Natick’s net zero plan stems from a non-binding resolution passed by Town Meeting in 2018 to achieve net zero by 2050. Natick secured state funding to draft its plan, and town sustainability leaders—armed with their draft plan—have been taking a virtual tour of boards and commissions to seek their blessings.
Given that 2050 is still far away, this plan keeps things manageable by focusing on the years between now and 2025 to ready for accelerated progress in the years to follow. The plan targets 21 actions that are deemed achievable, with some higher priority than others.
The Office of Sustainability got the big Select Board endorsement for its plan in late March, following on the heels of approvals by the School Committee, Planning Board and others. The plan was drafted in partnership with many, including sustainability experts from other communities, and with input from the public.
That public will play a huge role in the ultimate success of the plan, which syncs up nicely with the state’s Decarbonization Roadmap and its new climate law.
“The most exciting piece of that bill, in my opinion, is the creation of a net zero energy stretch code that would be available to municipalities to adopt as early as 2022,” says Jillian Wilson-Martin, Natick Sustainability Coordinator. “This type of code will allow Natick – and all MA communities – to ensure new construction and major renovations are built with the future in mind. The thirty years between now and 2050 (our target for net zero) will come quickly and it is foolish to build buildings we will have to convert later.”
What’s more, Wilson-Martin told the Planning Board that a goal of the plan is not to tear down old buildings to “build swanky net zero” ones.
A net zero action task force is envisioned that would include reps from town boards and departments to help support implementation of the plan.
Close to two-thirds of Natick’s emissions are generated by residents, while businesses account for most of the rest, with municipal emissions making up a relatively puny amount.
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