Overview of this site

This web site is designed to give Harvard residents information on the town’s plans to become a “Green Community”.

It has been compiled by members of the Harvard Energy Advisory Committee (HEAC) and volunteers working with that committee to create a public information site.   The intent is to provide the most recent and most accurate information available on the following:

Harvard Energy Advisory Committee

Since its inception in 2008, the Harvard Energy Advisory Committee, on behalf of the Board of Selectmen and the town at large – has pursued the following – across the town’s municipal and school building inventory:

  • a comprehensive energy use and cost analysis
  • a variety of energy use reduction and monitoring measures
  • a series of building audits, performed by committee members and contractors funded by DOER and National Grid
  • increased HVAC system efficiency via upgrades and replacements
  • more efficient lighting in many town buildings

During this time the state legislature passed the Green Communities Act, which was signed into law by Governor Patrick in July 2008.   The leglislation established Green Communities Division within the Dept. of Energy Resources (DOER) to serve as the hub for all cities and towns on all matters related to energy.   HEAC became aware of the program in 2009 and began investigating how Harvard might benefit from it.

HEAC Process and Status

Meetings Held

In February of 2010, an initial meeting with our DOER-sponsored consultant and our regional DOER representative was held in Harvard, during which we learned more about the five criteria and how we might begin to go about achieving them.   On March 15, at HEAC’s request, the BOS agreed to include an article to adopt the Stretch Energy Code in the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting, with the caveat that the voting on the measure would be postponed to a later date if the requirements and impacts of the new code had not been fully understood.

On April 28th of 2010, a public forum was held in Harvard to provide town officials and interested citizens with information on the Green Communities program and the Stretch Energy Code, a mechanism for meeting one of the five criteria.

On May 1st of 2010, at Annual Town Meeting, HEAC members gave a brief overview of the Stretch Energy Code and the Green Communities Program – and asked for a show of hands of who amongst the citizens present was aware of the program and the requirements.   Although this was only informal feedback, the general sense leading up to and at town meeting was that not enough public awareness existed to allow for an informed vote, and therefore the article was withdrawn.

Education and Feedback

Since the May town meeting, HEAC has continued to utilize our assistance grant to:

  • gain a more complete understanding of the Stretch Energy Code and it’s impacts to Harvard
  • learn more about the other criteria – including potential zoning impacts
  • discover how our Devens jurisdiction affects Harvard’s Green Communities eligibility
  • continue to develop a comprehensive energy reduction plan that would meet the G.C. requirements

HEAC was also requested by the Board of Selectmen to hold additional forums and disseminate information on the impacts of becoming a Green Community, towards the goal of educating and gathering feedback from town committees, boards, and citizens.

Summer is a difficult time in Harvard to attract public attention, so the committee focused on gathering input from members of the local building trades and other town officials, including a list of concerns from Harvard’s Building Inspector Gabe Vellante.   Several articles were published in town newspapers over the course of the year.

A second public forum was held from 7-9pm on October 14th, 2010 in Volunteers Hall at the Harvard Public Library, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.   At this forum – moderated by Harvard’s town meeting moderator Bob Eubank, citizens heard from a panel of experts on details of the Green Communities Program, the Stretch Energy Code, and then from additional experts in the construction, real estate, and building professions – on how the adoption of the Stretch Energy Code would affect Harvard.   The formal speakers program concluded shortly after 8pm, so citizens were able to ask questions of the panel for about an hour.  The program was taped by the Cable Committee and may be seen on Harvard’s Public Access Cable channel.

Action Plan

With assistance from our planning consultant, HEAC’s efforts culminated in a comprehensive Green Communities Action Plan for Harvard, with detailed information on all of the criteria and how Harvard could meet each one.   This Action Plan has been presented to the School Committee, the Finance Committee, the Planning Board, and the Board of Selectmen.   Specific measures of it have been approved by the Finance Committee, Planning Board, and Board of Selectmen, with approval pending from the School Committee on the two measures within the jurisdiction of the school district.   Future meetings and hearings are planned with the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board, and the Board of Selectmen, to further meet the requirements.
For Harvard to meet all the requirements of becoming a Green Community in 2010, several articles must be passed by town meeting vote and an application then submitted and filed with DOER by November 19.   The application must include a 5-year energy reduction plan for the town, and an energy-efficient vehicle policy.   These plans are being developed and discussed with town officials.

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