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Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New Municipal Construction

Massachusetts is moving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 mandates reductions of 25% from 1990 levels by 2020. It appears we have made this goal through greener electricity, higher automobile fuel efficiency, and energy conservation. On April 22, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration issued a formal determination letter establishing net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the Commonwealth’s new legal emissions limit for 2050.   The Massachusetts House and Senate have passed bills that set 2030, 2040, and 2050 goals at 50%, 75%, and 100% reductions.

But we shouldn’t have to wait until even 2030. We have the chance to act now to avoid greater costs later.

The proposed new Nauset Regional High School will last well beyond 2050, when net-zero greenhouse gas emissions are required by state law.  We must design a building now with zero emissions. This goal is achievable and affordable. Otherwise, we’ll be strapped with an expensive retrofit in the near future.

In June, the Wellfleet Energy and Climate Action Committee, with the support of the Wellfleet Select Board, voted to bring the net-zero emissions question to the Regional High School Building Committee. The Wellfleet Energy Committee is raising this question with the Building Committee. They need to reevaluate net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.  Reducing energy consumption saves money.  Completely eliminating emissions by using renewable energy saves the planet.

We urge the building committee, the select boards of the Nauset towns, and citizens at town meetings to support a regional high school with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The committee should include ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling and electric stoves for cooking.

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