Worcester adopted the Stretch Code, a building energy code, on May 4, 2010, as part of its designation as a Green Community. This code "stretches" energy code requirements beyond the base code, requiring higher building efficiency for new construction and major renovations. In 2023, Massachusetts developed a third code option, the Specialized Stretch Code (SSC), which municipalities could vote to adopt. The new SSC increases the energy efficiency requirements for new construction. The Worcester City Council voted to adopt it on September 26, 2023. The SSC will go into effect on July 1, 2024. This opt-in code will help our city meet our own commitments in the Green Worcester Plan, which has a goal of bringing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045.
The Smart Energy Advice program helps residents and small businesses make smart energy choices with assistance of two Energy Advocates who work for the city! Start with an energy assessment of your home or building, learn about local resources, understand your electricity bill and learn about substantial incentives and rebates for building weatherization and HVAC upgrades. This program is funded, in part, by the Community First Partnership offered by the Sponsors of Mass Save®.
In 2009, the City initiated a multi-year, multi-million dollar energy efficiency and renewable energy project for municipal buildings. The goal was to modernize municipal facilities and reduce energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions. By the time the project is completed (est. 2024), it will consist of 6 separate phases, including building energy efficiency work at 90+ buildings; 15 renewable energy installations (including New England's largest municipal solar farm); replacement of all municipal parking, parks and streetlights with LED fixtures; and more. The total project cost to date is $115 million with life-cycle savings estimated at $164 million - which means that for every dollar we invested we will save more than $1.50! As notable as the financial picture is, the environmental benefits are just as impressive - the City has reduced its electrical use by the equivalent of 4,400 Worcester homes (7%) for a year with "brown electricity" (i.e. from burning fossil-fuels).
Worcester has been an active contributor to the solar growth in the region. Since 2012, more than 1,500 solar systems were installed in our city! In only 6 years, from 2011 to 2017, the City installed, and now owns and maintains, 15 solar installations on municipal properties, totaling over 10.5 Megawatt-DC in solar capacity, including the largest municipally owned solar farm (8.1MW) in New England on the top of the Greenwood Street landfill. Four more are expected to go live soon.
Massachusetts leads on the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard with respect to state energy efficiency policies and programs that save energy and produce environmental and economic benefits. For example, through the Mass Save program, numerous Worcester properties received free home energy audits, as well as rebates and interest-free loans for energy efficient work and equipment.
Dismas House and the Commonwealth Green Low Income Housing Coalition have assisted over 40 properties and 19 housing nonprofits in Worcester and surrounding towns with energy upgrades, solar, insulation and heating so as to lower utility costs and reduce carbon output.
The Green Jobs Academy, with a location in Worcester, provides training in building science to individuals to enable them to enter and move up a career ladder in the building/weatherization industry.
Worcester's most recent Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory demonstrates the progress made due to our energy efficiency and renewable energy projects over the past 10+ years. From 2009 to 2019, GHG emissions associated with municipal operations decreased by 16 percent!
Worcester was one of 35 Massachusetts municipalities to be designated a Green Community in 2010. The City earned the Green Community designation by meeting five criteria relating to different aspects of reduction of energy use and promoting renewable energy:
To learn how the City met and/or is meeting these criteria, visit the Worcester Energy Website.
Visit www.WorcesterEnergy.org to learn more!
In early 2022, the City of Worcester joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Climate Challenge, committing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% within 10 years. The Better Climate Challenge is a government platform that provides transparency, accountability, technical assistance and collaboration to identify decarbonization pathways and provide recognition for leadership across the US economy. At the time of joining, Worcester was one of only 15 municipalities across the nation to undertake this challenge and the first in Massachusetts to do so.