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Eighteen cities and towns in Massachusetts have been designated Green Communities, making them eligible for over $3.6 million in grants for local renewable power and energy-efficiency projects that will advance both municipal and state clean energy goals.

Boston, Dedham, Easton, Gardner, Gloucester, Harvard, Hatfield, Marlborough, Medway, Milton, Newburyport, New Salem, Scituate, Swampscott, Watertown, Wayland, Williamstown and Winchester join 35 other cities and towns named in the inaugural round of Green Communities designations last May - bringing the total number of official Green Communities to 53.

The Department of Energy Resources' (DOER) Green Communities Grant Program uses funding from auctions of carbon-emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reward communities that win Green Communities designation by meeting the following five clean energy benchmarks:

- Adopting local zoning by law or ordinance that allows "as-of-right" siting for renewable and/or alternative energy research and development facilities, manufacturing facilities or generation units;

- Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;

- Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program to reduce use by 20% within five years;

- Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and

- Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs.

Newly designated communities have until Jan. 21 to submit applications for grants that will be awarded later this winter. DOER will take additional applications for Green Community designations and grants later in 2011.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

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