RTM Urged To Join “Net Zero” Energy Effort

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.

Solar PV power can be the way to go.

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.) 

5 responses to “RTM Urged To Join “Net Zero” Energy Effort

  1. Jill Greenberg

    Anyone have any ideas of how to get the big spec-house developers to build with these lofty goals in mind? There are so many exposed roof tops in town that are perfectly situated to have taken advantage of the sun, for example, and yards that could, through native plantings, provide food and shelter for all sorts of wildlife that could benefit our climate and environment.

  2. Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

    I would love to sign the petition but since I am no longer a Westport resident it does not see right. However, as an old Westporter, I can say that Westport has a long history of caring about the environment and taking measurers to protect our environment. Long before it was on the political agenda or even being talked about very much. First Selectman Elliott Roberts and Betty Roberts were working to protect Westport and surrounding areas. Betty Roberts was very active in Scouting and helped to develop Camp Asapetuck
    for the Girl Scouts . She taught us all to love and appreciate nature and to take steps to protect it. Westport residents Alexander B. and Lucy Adams were instrumental in establishing the Nature Conservatory. Mr. Adams was the president for several years. He was also known as author who wrote about the American West, Southwest, natural history and conservation.
    Both couples were very down to earth and wanted the best for Westport, its youth and made themselves available to further that cause. So, I said all of that to encourage others to sign the petition and to be active where ever you now find yourselves. You will be carrying on a long tradition of activism and education with the many examples set by those who came before us. (check out Alexander and Lucy Adams and Devil’s Den.)

  3. Environmentally ( and economically) prudent action on this beautiful day: used a clothesline to dry laundry!

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

      And I know that the sun/air dried laundry will have a wonderful aroma. Can’t be matched.

  4. Not mentioned at all is an improvement in the energy performance of new residential construction. All the solar power is not going to power the XXL sized homes that are being built in accordance with low energy standards. I am not protesting people desire to build such large home, but some requirement to mitigate the effects (better insulation and using alternative energy sources like geo thermal and solar) can go a long way to get to net zero. New home 54 North Avenue is the first new construction home in Westport that is Net Zero by combining high insulation standards with a solar system that meets all the energy needs of the home. No compromise on living standards and a positive ROI….it is a no brainer, All new construction should be held to this standard or something close to it if you want to get to a net zero “community” not just the town owned buildings.

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