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February 27 Public Information Session on Fossil Fuel Warrant Article

Learn about the article that will help Arlington reach its 2050 net zero goal.

Post Date:02/13/2020 10:45 AM
Arlington’s Clean Energy Future Committee (CEFC), in concert with Sustainable Arlington and Mothers Out Front, has scheduled a public information session on a proposed Town bylaw that would prohibit fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and major renovations. The information session was held on Thursday, February 27. ACMi recorded the information session, and the recording is now available on their website.

The Select Board has inserted an article for a proposed fossil fuel bylaw on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting, which begins April 27. The article was inserted at the request of the CEFC. The CEFC supports a prohibition on fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and major renovations because it would help Arlington achieve the Town’s goal of reducing carbon pollution to net zero by 2050. The CEFC is currently developing a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and a major focus of the plan is to reduce or eliminate the combustion of carbon-intensive fossil fuels for heating and transportation.

The CEFC, and advocates from Sustainable Arlington and Mothers Out Front, are modeling the proposed fossil fuel bylaw on a similar measure adopted by Brookline’s Town Meeting in November 2019. Brookline’s Warrant Article 21 prohibited fossil fuel piping in new buildings, as well as new piping in existing buildings that undergo a major renovation. Exceptions were made for cooking, backup generators, repair or extension of existing heating systems in buildings not undergoing a major renovation, hot water systems in large (more than 10,000 square feet) buildings, and a few other circumstances. Brookline’s measure also established a waiver and appeals body that could exempt individual projects due to excessive cost or impracticality. Typical home renovation projects like kitchens, bathrooms, and additions would not be subject to Brookline’s bylaw because they would not alter 75 percent of the building’s original floor area. Brookline’s Warrant Article 21 is available on the Town of Brookline’s website.

There are effective and affordable alternatives to heating systems fueled by natural gas, oil, or propane. Modern cold climate heat pumps provide both heating and cooling without on-site combustion of fossil fuels. Unlike electric resistance heaters installed in the past, modern electric heat pumps are highly efficient and affordable. They can heat both small and large spaces, as well as domestic hot water. For example, Arlington’s new High School will be heated exclusively with heat pumps. As the electrical grid steadily replaces fossil fuels with renewable energy (a typical Arlington home’s electricity supply is currently 27 percent renewable, increasing 2 percent per year), all-electric buildings will come closer and closer to emitting zero carbon pollution.

Arlington ran a successful HeatSmart campaign during 2019 to promote heat pumps as well as other clean heating and cooling technologies. More Arlington residents participated in the campaign than any other HeatSmart campaign in the State. More information is available on heat pumps and other clean heating technologies at Arlington’s HeatSmart website.

For more information on the proposed bylaw, visit the Clean Energy Future Committee’s website, or contact, Ken Pruitt, Energy Manager, at 781-316-3428 or kpruitt@town.arlington.ma.us.

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