Last month, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe announced that Westport has joined over 1,200 governors, mayors, businesses, universities and others in pledging to exceed the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.
Two years earlier, Marpe announced “Net Zero by 2050”: a target involving energy, water and waste. The goal is to create a sustainable community — economically, socially and environmentally — by mid-century.
Now, a group of Westporters is asking the RTM to endorse Net Zero too.
On Tuesday (July 11), the Green Task Force will present a petition with dozens of signatures. So far all 3 selectmen, and many town boards, commissions and individual committee members have signed the document.
Another petition is also circulating, with a similar request. This one is aimed at non-government Westporters.
Westport has a history of environmental activism. In 2007, we were the first town in Connecticut to include a sustainability chapter in a Plan of Conservation and Development.
Since then we’ve won the Department of Energy’s Neighbor to Neighbor Challenge, helped launch the Solarize Connecticut program, and (with a unanimous RTM vote) became one of the first towns in the state to adopt financing to support energy efficiency and clean energy improvements.
Examples of Net Zero include:
- Signing an agreement to receive electricity credit for 1 megawatt of solar power per year, produced at a site in eastern Connecticut. The town is waiting for approval for an additional 1 megawatt. This program could satisfy 1/4 of the town buildings’ electricity.
- Implementing the Energy Performance Contract initiative in school and municipal buildings. Reducing energy consumption has the potential to save up to$1 million per year in energy costs for the next 15 years.
- Installing electric vehicle charging stations at the railroad station parking lots and other municipal parking sites.
- Applying for an additional 1.2 megawatts of on-site solar power at Staples High School (just shy of 50% of the school’s electricity loads, after a separate building efficiency improvement program).
- Preparing to break ground on an efficient renovation of the Westport Library, including 70 kilowatts of solar power.
- Installing another 100 kilowatts of solar capacity as part of the planned expansion of the Senior Center.
- Initiating a new program with support of the town, Downtown Merchants Association and the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, encouraging businesses to keep the doors closed this summer when using air conditioning.
That last goal may be the toughest of all.
(To sign the Net Zero petition, click here.)